A will is a legal document that allows you to allocate your current belongings to be distributed following your death. In many occurrences, people die without a proper will. This makes it more difficult for your family to obtain your belongings in a fair way.
The probate process is relevant whether you have a valid will or not. Part of the probate process includes the prime witness, namely the personal representative, to lead the process of distributing your goods. Some legal jargon that gets used frequently during the probate process – especially regarding wills and trusts – are the terms “testate” and “intestate”.
Testate simply means you have a legal will that documents your wishes for all of your belongings. To be regarded as testate is a good thing! We want your wishes to be honored after your death.
Conversely, intestate means that you do not have a legal will prepared. There are many reasons people do not write wills and trusts in Washington; however, your belongings will still be distributed. When you are intestate, the court system (through the probate process) appoints a personal representative to lead the allocation of your belongings, including paying off all debts and distributing the remainder of your goods to loved ones.
If you wrote a will many years ago that does not include all of your belongings, it is called partially intestate. Your will stands true, as it is a legal document. The remainder of your belongings will be processed as intestate.
We believe it is better to distribute your goods as you wish, which is why we encourage you to speak with one of our lawyers at Puget Sound Probates in Bellevue to ensure you have a complete, legal will.