Overview of the Closing Process
Your administration of the estate is effectively done. Now, it is time to:
- Distribute the estate’s assets to Decedent’s Heirs or Beneficiaries, and
- File with the Court a report of your administration and distribution, bringing the estate and your administration of it to a close.
If you have completed ALL of the above, you are ready to close the estate. RCW 11.68.110(1)
Simple closing requires that all Heirs and Beneficiaries entitled to receive property from the estate will execute a Receipt & Waiver upon receipt of their estate distribution.
On the one hand, the closing process is substantially simplified if you can obtain and file a statement from each Heir and Beneficiary entitled to receive property from the estate that he/she has received all property from the estate to which he/she is entitled. On the other hand, it makes little sense to attempt this process unless you can obtain such a statement from all the Heirs and Beneficiaries. Practically speaking, it is an “all or nothing” situation. If this is possible, then complete as many Receipt & Waiver by Heir or Beneficiary forms as there are Heirs and Beneficiaries and have each Heir or Beneficiary sign and deliver a copy of this form to you in receipt of his/her distribution.
Complete whichever of the following forms is appropriate:
File your completed Declaration of Completion and the signed Receipts & Waivers from all the Heirs and Beneficiaries with the Court (with a copy of each for conformation and return). RCW 11.68.110(3) The estate closes upon your filing. RCW 11.68.110(4)
That’s it — you’re done — Congratulations!
If any Heir or Beneficiary entitled to receive property from the estate is unable or unwilling to execute a Receipt & Waiver, then closing becomes more complicated — necessitating substantially more paperwork, mailing, and filing on your part and resulting in a delay of approximately a month to close the estate.
This process involves the use of two different forms having similar names:
File it with the Court (with copy for conformation and return). RCW 11.68.110(1)
Attach a copy of your filed Declaration of Completion to your Notice of Filing & Declaration of Mailing
Mail a copy of that combined document to each Heir or Beneficiary listed in your Declaration of Completion.
File the original Notice of Filing & Declaration of Mailing with the Court (with copy for conformation and return). RCW 11.68.110(3)
Timing: Within 5 days of filing your Declaration of Completion.
So long as no Objection to your Declaration of Completion is timely filed at the Court and served on you, the estate will effectively close 30 days after filing your Declaration of Completion (the “Effective Date”). You will retain authority for 5 business days thereafter solely to make and complete Final Distribution. RCW 11.68.110(2) & 11.68.112.
“Final Distribution” is the transfer of all the remaining assets (of whatever nature) in the estate to its Heirs and Beneficiaries. Assuming that no Objection to your Declaration of Completion was timely filed and served, then during the 5-business day period beginning on the first business day after the Effective Date, make Final Distribution by distributing to each Heir or Beneficiary at least as much property as was specified to be distributed to him/her in your Declaration of Completion, at which time the estate will close. RCW 11.68.112
Timing: Within 5 business days after the Effective Date.
For forms to use upon distribution or sale of property from or by the estate, see: Forms for Distribution or Sale of Property.
For instructions and the Excise Tax Affidavit form for recording a Deed, see: Recording a Deed.
Although not required by law, it would be prudent to have each Heir or Beneficiary, in receipt of his/her distribution, sign and deliver to you a copy of a: Receipt by Heir or Beneficiary form.
File all such signed Receipts with the Court (with copy for conformation and return).
Make sure that you use the correct form for your intended purpose.
One of your primary goals in closing the estate is likely to close it without having anyone object to your Declaration of Completion, necessitating further interaction with the Court. If you believe that any likelihood exists that any interested party might file an Objection (eg, because one or more heirs or beneficiaries have been troublesome during your administration), WASHINGTON PROBATE suggests that you:
At least then you will have put any disgruntled heir or beneficiary to the election of whether he/she would rather:
Congratulations! You’re done!
You may need longer than 12 months to probate the estate.
If someone properly objects to your Declaration of Completion.
If an eligible party files an Objection to your Declaration of Completion with the Court and serves a copy of it on you within the 30-day notice period, then you will need to set a hearing on the Objection with the Court, send Notice of Hearing to all the interested parties, file an appropriate Response to the Objection, and attend the hearing and make your best case.
After closing it, you may need to re-open the estate, for example, to deal with newly discovered property.
Occasionally, it becomes necessary to re-open a previously closed estate, for example, upon the discovery of new property belonging to the estate. The procedure for doing so is essentially the same as for initially opening the estate and obtaining one’s Letters. See: Re-Opening the Estate.