Washington Adjudication Proceeding Instructions

  1. Preparing for the Adjudication Proceeding
    1. Obtaining a Certified Copy of Descendant’s Death Certificate
    2. Determining the Proper Court
      1. Jurisdiction
      2. Venue
    3. Filing Descendant’s Will
    4. Petitioning for Adjudication
    5. Drafting a Proposed Court Order
    6. Telephoning the Probate Clerk
  2. Going to Court
  3. Giving Notice of the Adjudication Proceeding

Caution: The purpose of most probate proceedings, such as an Adjudication Proceeding, is to obtain a Court Order that you may deliver to a transfer agent to transfer the Descendant’s assets to his/her heirs or beneficiaries. Practically speaking, however, many transfer agents will NOT accept an Order of Adjudication and will require the appointment of a Personal Representative, specifically his/her Letters, either Testamentary (with Will) or of Administration (without Will), for the transfer to be made. In particular, real estate title insurance companies and securities brokerages are highly unlikely to accept an Order of Adjudication; some banks won’t accept an Order of Adjudication either. If the transfer you wish to make cannot be made by obtaining an Order of Adjudication, you’re only alternative is to begun a traditional probate proceeding, with Nonintervention Powers if you qualify for them.

Suggestion: Before beginning an Adjudication Proceeding, check with the relevant transfer agent to ensure that the agent will accept an Order of Adjudication for the transfer of the pertinent asset.

Preparing for the Adjudication Proceeding

This is the “doing your homework — getting your ducks in a row” phase, so that when you do go to Court, you’ll sail through and come out with the prize — your Order of Adjudication.

Obtaining a Certified Copy of Descendant’s Death Certificate

In King County

In Another County in Washington

As long as Descendant died a resident of Washington and you will file for your adjudication proceeding to be heard in the Superior Court in the county in which Descendant resided at death: Go to 3 below.

Determining the Proper Court

  1. Jurisdiction
    1. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

      Bottom-line: As long as the Descendant died a resident of Washington or within Washington, a Washington Superior Court will have subject matter jurisdiction over your case.

    2. Personal Jurisdiction

      Bottom-line: As long as all the parties to the probate have physical presence within Washington or willingly submit to the Court’s jurisdiction, a Washington Superior Court will have personal jurisdiction over the parties to your case.

  2. Venue

    Bottom-line: The proper Court for a Washington resident is the Superior Court in the county in which the Descendant resided at death.

If Descendant died without a Will: Go to 4 below.

Filing Descendant’s Will

Bottom-line: If you are in possession of a Will of a Descendant, Washington law requires you to either promptly:

  • File it with the Court, or
  • Deliver it to the named Personal Representative (for his/her filing of the Will).

Petitioning for Adjudication

Testate: If Descendant left a Will (RCW 11.20.020), then complete a: Petition for Probate of Will & Adjudication of Testacy form.

Intestate: If Descendant did not leave a Will (RCW 11.28.110), then complete a: Petition for Adjudication of Intestacy & Heirship form.

The Issue: Courts approve Orders but don’t write Orders themselves. You must prepare a proposed Order for the Judge’s review and signature, memorializing his/her approval.

Drafting a Proposed Court Order

Testate: If Descendant left a Will, then complete an: Order Admitting Will to Probate & Adjudicating Testacy form.

Intestate: If Descendant did not leave a Will, then complete an: Order Adjudicating Intestacy & Heirship form.

Telephoning the Probate Clerk

  • Determine when the Court is available to hear probate Petitions for Adjudication (eg, Monday from 9 to 10 AM, Wednesday from 1:30 to 3 PM, or ?).
  • Determine if there are any requirements specific to your county or other requirements that it would be helpful for you to know before going to Court. Requirement Specific to King County

Going to Court

See in general: Washington Probate Court Practice

And in particular:

By completing the instructions in the two sections immediately above, you will have completed the steps required to obtain your Order of Adjudication for a typical probate estate.


The Issue: Having obtained your Order of Adjudication, you must promptly send Notice of the Adjudication to Descendant’s beneficiaries and heirs, giving each of them the opportunity to take any actions they believe appropriate to protect their own interests in the estate.

Giving Notice of the Adjudication Proceeding

You must provide notice of your adjudication to Descendant’s Heirs and Beneficiaries as well of WDSHS.

If Descendant Died testate:

  • Complete a Notice of Admission of Will to Probate & Adjudication of Testacy & Declaration of Mailing form.
  • To your Notice of Admission & Declaration of Mailing, attach a copy of”
    • Your Order Admitting Will to Probate & Adjudicating Testacy and
    • Descendant’s Will.
  • Mail, preferably by certified mail — return receipt requested, a copy of that combined document (Notice + Order + Will) to:
    • Each of the persons and at the addresses shown in Paragraph 4 of your Petition for Admission of Will to Probate & Adjudication of Testacy,
    • The Washington Department of Social & Health Services, Office of Financial Recovery, and
    • Make sure to include Descendant’s Social Security Number and your name and mailing address.
  • File the original Notice of Admission & Declaration of Mailing with the Court (with copy for conformation and return).

    Timing: Within 30 days of the date your Order. RCW 11.28.330

If Descendant died intestate:

  • Complete a Notice of Adjudication of Intestacy & Heirship & Declaration of Mailing form.
  • To your Notice of Adjudication & Declaration of Mailing, attach a copy of your Order Adjudicating Intestacy and Heirship.
  • Mail, preferably by certified mail — return receipt requested, a copy of that combined document (Notice + Order) to:
    • Each of the persons and at the addresses shown in Paragraph 4 of your Petition for Adjudication of Intestacy & Heirship, and
    • The Washington Department of Social & Health Services, Office of Financial Recovery, and
    • Make sure to include Descendant’s Social Security Number and your name and mailing address.
  • File the original Notice of Adjudication & Declaration of Mailing with the Court (with copy for conformation and return).

    Timing: Within 30 days of the date your Order. RCW 11.28.330

If Any Heir or Beneficiary Resides Outside of the Unites States:

Then notice of the Adjudication should be given by letter to the consulate of the foreign nation in which the Heir or Beneficiary resides, and a copy of the letter should be filed with the Court.

Finality of Order:

A recipient of a timely sent Notice of Adjudication has four months from the date of the Order of Adjudication to file an Objection to the Order of Adjudication (ie, to file a Will Contest, to file a later Will, or to object to the determination of lawful heirs). RCW 11.28.340

 


Assuming that no one files anything further in the estate, that’s it — you’re done — Congratulations.

Now, from a practical perspective, you (and any other recipients of property from the estate) will need to take care of:

  1. Making the distributions from the estate to their intended recipients and getting the assets re-titled in the recipients’ names;
  2. Dealing with Descendant’s creditors; and
  3. Dealing with any income or estate tax filings and payment of taxes that Descendant or his/her estate may owe.