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WA-Probate > Probate Court Practice > The Initial Filing in a New Case > Your Probate Won't Likely Close Within 12 Months
RCW 11.48.010 requires a Personal Representative to administer, settle, and close a probate estate "as rapidly and as quickly as possible, without sacrifice to the ... estate." As a general rule, most probates are able to be closed within 12 months, although exceptions abound, such as a probate having any of the following circumstances:
A federal or state
estate tax return to be filed;
significant assets to be sold;
problems to be resolved;
Pending litigation (eg,
a Will Contest, an income or estate tax dispute, a wrongful death action,
A pending ancillary
probate (eg, in another state for real property in that state);
And so forth.
For good cause, King County will approve a request for an extension of time of up to 36 months to close a probate estate; the request may be made as early as upon the initial filing of the case. 2003 King County Probate Policy & Procedure Manual § 1.3. Consequently, if you believe there is any reasonable likelihood that circumstances may prevent you from closing your probate within 12 months, you should request from the Clerk upon your initial filing an extension of time of up to 36 months.
Many probate courts, including King County's, review probate cases that remain open longer than 12 months. If the probate's Court file shows no apparent recent action, King County will mail the Personal Representative an Order on Case Review (an "OCR") requesting the Personal Representative to either:
Promptly file the
documents necessary to close the estate, or
progress of the estate's administration,
necessity for keeping the estate open, and
Estimating when it will likely be ready to be closed.
To review a typical Status Report, see:
In King County, Personal Representatives who fail to satisfactorily respond to an OCR are sent an Order to Show Cause (an "OSC") requiring them to appear before the Court on its biweekly Probate Contempt Calendar. At that hearing, in the absence of an acceptable response, the Court may:
the Personal Representative in contempt,
a fine ("sanctions") on the Personal Representative,
the Personal Representative, and either
the Personal Representative, or
Close the probate case administratively.
Since September, 2002, your author has voluntarily served as the intake attorney for King County's biweekly Probate Contempt Calendar, assisting recipients of Orders to Show Cause with whatever they need to do to avoid being held in contempt and receiving a fine. In his experience, the great majority of the cases on the King County Probate Contempt Calendar falls into one of two categories:
Bottom-line: As a Personal Representative, you need to either:
Close your probate
estate within 12 months, or
Obtain from the Court an extension of time to close it.