The Initial Filing in a New Case

  1. File at the Clerk’s Office
  2. Pay the Filing Fee
  3. Now Take Your Documents to the Courtroom
  4. File Immediately Following the Hearing on Your Petition
  5. Obtain Your Letters

Side-bar:  King County Clerk’s Office.

Side-bar:  Probate Filings & Hearings in King County: “Downtown” vs. Kent.

A.  File at the Superior Court Clerk’s Office:

For your records, make sure to bring and conform a copy of every document that you file.

For the time being, don’t file as yet any other document.  File them immediately after your appointment by the Court.  Some Courts may have different procedures — “go with the flow.”

The clerk will:

  • Stamp your documents on the upper right-hand corner as received, dated, and filed.
  • Stamp your new case number in the header of your pleadings.
  • Hand to you the case number stamp.  Use it now to stamp the case number of each of your remaining documents, both originals and copies.
  • Tell you which Courtroom will hear your case (eg, the ex parte Courtrooms of the King County Courthouse).
  • Give you directions on how to get there (eg, at one end of the main hallway of the 3rd Floor of the King County Courthouse, three floors below the Clerk’s Office).

Problem:  You Anticipate Your Probate Won’t Close Within 12 Months

B.  Pay the Filing Fee

Currently (July 24, 2005) $200 and get a receipt for it.

Filing Fees & Methods of Payment

C.  Now Take Your Documents to the Courtroom

See: Appearing in Probate Court.

D.  File Immediately Following the Hearing on Your Petition

Upon obtaining the Judge’s signature on your Order:

  • Get your documents from the Judge or his/her clerk !!!
    • Conform your copy of the Order in or around the Courtroom.  Orders are conformed not only by stamping the upper-right hand corner of their first page, usually with a stamping machine, but also by stamping by hand their last page with the date and the Judge’s name.  At the King County Courthouse, for example, the waiting area between the ex parte Courtrooms has not only a stamping machine, as is found in the Clerk’s Office, but also a hand date stamp, a rubber stamp pad, and hand rubber stamps bearing the name of each of the ex parte Judges.  There, stamp the first page of your Order with the stamping machine and the last page with the date stamp and the stamp bearing the name of the Judge who granted your Petition.
  • Take the signed Order and all your other documents to the Superior Court Clerk’s Office and:
    • File with the Clerk’s Office the Order signed by the Judge and any Will.
    • Now file the original of all your other documents:
      • Supplement to Petition,
      • AnyDeclination of Named Personal Representative,
      • AnyDeclination and Waiver by Surviving Spouse,
      • AnyDesignation of Resident Agent,
      • AnyConsent to Grant of Nonintervention Powers,
      • AnyWaiver of Bond,
      • AnyWaiver of Notice,
      • AnyWaiver of Compensation,
      • AnyRenunciation of Compensation Specified in Will & Election re Court Determination,
      • YourOath of Personal Representative,
      • Any Bond,
      • Your Letters (if that county requires them),
      • Your Probate Notice to Creditors, etc.
    • Obtain a certified copy of:
    • Conform each copy of each original document.  At the King County Courthouse, the stamping machines are located on a counter on the opposite side of the aisle from the filing windows.

See: Filing a Probate Notice to Creditors.

E.  Obtain Your Letters

Caution:  It is not enough for you to have been appointed by the Court as Personal Representative or Guardian (ie, merely for the Judge to have signed your Order) for you to have authority to act on behalf of a Decedent’s or a Guardianship estate — you must be “qualified” to act.  In other words, you must at least have done everything required in order to obtain your Letters (and possibly even have obtained them).  Unfortunately, the Personal Representative appointed in Estate of Shaw, 122 Wn. App. 871 (2004), must not have known this.  There, she obtained appointment but never bothered to:

  • Obtain and file the Bond imposed,
  • File her Oath of Personal Representative, or
  • Actually obtain her Letters.

Acting as Decedent’s Personal Representative, she accepted on the estate’s behalf her own service of process regarding a personal injury lawsuit she had filed in her individual capacity against Decedent’s estate (she had been injured when Decedent’s car ran into a Metro bus that she was driving).  Several months later, she was removed as Personal Representative, and the successor PR affirmatively defended that when she accepted her service of process on behalf of the estate, she was not qualified as Decedent’s Personal Representative.  The Court agreed and dismissed her lawsuit.  By this time, however, the 3-year statute of limitations had run on her claim, and it was now barred.  Don’t make this mistake:

Obtain your Letters before acting as Personal Representative or Guardian.