Yakima, WA asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate for Washington

Q: In WA, What do I file to take immediate control of father's estate?

My stepbrother moved into my father's house last year after being evicted. Claimed to be caregiver, but after my father had a couple hospital stays due to bed sores, etc, I sold my house and moved in to finished basement about a month prior to his death. While I was with my father at the hospital while he lay dying, my stepbrother changed the locks and took control of all my father's documents, his wallet, etc and refuses to let me back in or give me his records. What do I need to file to gain control of estate? I can't file probate until the death cert is signed which could take a week. My father died intestate and I am his only bio child, but stepbrother keeps signing paperwork for him and making decisions without showing proof of POA but telling people he has it. No POA was signed.

1 Lawyer Answer
Brent Bowden
Brent Bowden
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Lynnwood, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: The typical way to gain control of his probate would be by initiating a probate, but, as you indicated, that requires a final death certificate.

The court can appoint a special administrator if there is something critical that must be addressed before a personal representative can be appointed (RCW 11.32 https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=11.32&full=true). I would suggest you discuss this with a local probate attorney.

Powers of Attorney are only effective while the person who executed them is living. As soon as someone dies, the power of attorney ceases to be effective.

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