Frequently Asked Questions

Gaining Access to Decedent’s Safe Deposit Box

A safe deposit box may be opened by its lessee or the lessee’s authorized agent. A lessee’s authorized agent includes their Personal Representative, Attorney-in-Fact, Special Representative, or the Trustee of their Living Trust. RCW 22.28.030.

Problem: Decedent is the lessee of a safe deposit box; you want to access it but you are not among the authorized agents listed above.

In King County, the Court may authorize and order that the safe deposit box be opened and that any estate documents in it, such as a Will, be filed with the Court or delivered to the named Personal Representative. King County Local Rule (LCR) 98.04(d).

The depository is entitled to receive from the person retrieving the Will and at their expense:

  • A receipt for, and a copy of, the Will; and
  • The depository’s expenses attributable to delivering the Will, including fees and mileage expenses, the latter at the same rate as for a witness. King County Probate Policy & Procedure Manual, § 3.3.3 (available at the information desk of the Public Law Library of King County, KF 765.K56 2011 ).

For a Court in another county, check that county’s local Superior Court Rules for similar authority, and if no such authority exists, a Special Administrator may need to be appointed in order to open the safe deposit box and obtain any estate documents in it. RCW 11.32.010.

As for all other contents of the safe deposit box, their collection and disposition must await the appointment of a Personal Representative.

Relevant Forms:

Petition for Order to Open Safe Deposit Box and Release Will Form – Download Word Doc or PDF

Order Directing Bank to Open Safe Deposit Box and Release Will Form – Download Word Doc or PDF

Affidavit or Declaration

Affidavit

An Affidavit is a written document in which its maker (the “Affiant”) swears under oath before someone authorized to administer oaths, such as a Notary Public or County Clerk, that the statements made in the document are true. Practically speaking, this means that to make a lawful Affidavit, you have to:

  • Find a Notary Public,
  • Take your document to the Notary,
  • Recite the oath,
  • Swear that the statements are true,
  • Have the Notary witness your signature and then sign the document, and will likely
  • Pay the Notary a fee for the service ($10).

This can be an inconvenient and time consuming experience. Most banks will notarize items for their customers free of charge; check with your individual bank. The Public Law Library of King County offers notary services for $10 per signature notarized.

In many state, including Washington, there is a more efficient alternative: a Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury.

Declaration under Penalty of Perjury

In Washington, RCW 9A.72.085 provides as follows:

RCW 9A.72.085 Unsworn Statements, Certification – Standards for subscribing to an unsworn statement.
(1) Whenever, under any law of this state or under any rule, order, or requirement made under the law of this state, any matter in an official proceeding is required or permitted to be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by a person’s sworn written statement, declaration, verification, certificate, oath, or affidavit, the matter may with like force and effect be supported, evidenced, established, or proved in the official proceeding by an unsworn written statement, declaration, verification, or certificate, which:
 
(a) Recites that it is certified or declared by the person to be true under penalty of perjury;
(b) Is subscribed by the person;
(c) States the date and place of its execution; and
(d) States that it is so certified or declared under the laws of the state of Washington.
 
(2) The certification or declaration may be in substantially the following form:

   
“I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington that the foregoing is true and correct”:
. . . . 
. . . . 
(Date and Place)
(Signature)

 
(3) For purposes of this section, a person subscribes to an unsworn written statement, declaration, verification, or certificate by:
(a) Affixing or placing his or her signature as defined in RCW 9A.04.110 on the document;
(b) Attaching or logically associating his or her digital signature or electronic signature as defined in RCW 19.34.020 to the document;
(c) Affixing or logically associating his or her signature in the manner described in general rule 30 to the document if he or she is a licensed attorney; or
(d) Affixing or logically associating his or her full name, department or agency, and badge or personnel number to any document that is electronically submitted to a court, a prosecutor, or a magistrate from an electronic device that is owned, issued, or maintained by a criminal justice agency if he or she is a law enforcement officer.
 
(4) This section does not apply to writings requiring an acknowledgment, depositions, oaths of office, or oaths required to be taken before a special official other than a notary public.

Legal Equivalency

The legal equivalency of a sworn statement followed by a notarized signature (i.e., an Affidavit) and a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury (except for oaths of office) is expressly acknowledged in the 2011 King County Probate Policy & Procedure Manual, §§ 1.1.5 and 1.1.6 (available at the information desk of the Public Law Library of King County – KF 765.K56 2011).

Consequently, in most cases, a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury (also known as a Certification under Penalty of Perjury or Verification under Penalty of Perjury) is legally equivalent to an Affidavit, and substantially more convenient to make.

Form of Declaration under Penalty of Perjury

As indicated above, the usual form of such a Declaration under penalty of perjury is as follows:

I declare under penalty of perjury, according to the laws of the State of Washington, that the following is true and correct to the best of my knowledge:

1. …

2. …

3. ,,,

Signed

Date: On_____________

Place: At_____________

Signature: ____________

Disadvantages to Using a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury Instead of an Affidavit

One disadvantage of using a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury instead of an Affidavit is practical, not legal. People, especially institutions, and particularly banks and brokerages, are used to dealing with and familiar with Affidavits; to them, that is how business is typically done. So, despite the legal equivalency between Affidavits and Declarations under Penalty of Perjury, your “person in possession of the asset” might demand the use of an Affidavit on the mistaken belief that the law requires its use and its use only. In that case, if you use a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury, you could find yourself in the position of having either to educate them as to the law or to accede to their misinformed demand. For that reason alone, this website recommends the use of an Affidavit instead of a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury.

Fortunately, Courts are familiar with Declarations under Penalty of Perjury. For that reason, as well as for the sake of convenience, the probate section of this website uses a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury instead of an Affidavit for all forms to be filed at Court for which a Declaration may be lawfully used. The only form on the probate section of this website legally requiring the use of an Affidavit instead of a Declaration under Penalty of Perjury is the Oath of Personal Representative.

Appointing a Guardian ad Litem for a Minor (or otherwise incapacitated) Heir or Beneficiary

The Problem:

In order for you to satisfy your requirements for giving notice to, receiving a consent or waiver from, making a distribution to an heir or beneficiary, they must have legal capacity, and a minor (i.e., a person under age 18) lacks such capacity.

Make sure that if any  heir or beneficiary lacks legal capacity, you deal with that person through their proper fiduciary.

Appointing a Fiduciary:

RCW 11.76.080 provides that the Court may appoint a disinterested person as a Guardian ad Litem for an incapacitated person who has no Guardian and is interested in a Decedent’s estate and shall appoint a Guardian ad Litem for certain hearings, such as on a Petition for Nonintervention Powers if Notice of Hearing is required under RCW 11.68.041 or on a Petition for Adjudication.

What Is a Guardian ad Litem?

A Guardian ad Litem is a person appointed by the Court to represent someone who cannot represent themselves, usually because of a disability, sometimes because of minor age.

Appointments of Guardians ad Litem are usually made from a list of local social workers and probate attorneys who have volunteered for such appointments and passed a state certification program. While they are knowledgeable, experienced, and efficient and have volunteered to be appointed, they typically do not offer to waive their fees, which are ultimately determined by the Court and usually charged to the estate. It is unusual to have a Guardian ad Litem appointed in a solvent probate estate (assets than debts) without ultimately incurring a fee of at least $500 and often substantially more if the issues presented are more than routine.

Guardians ad Litems serve an important role, generally providing the Court with a neutral, third party who can independently gather facts and determine that proper legal procedures are being followed for the protection of those incapable, either functionally or legally, of taking care of themselves. Nevertheless, Guardians ad Litem can add expense to the process and do add another party to satisfy. So, from the perspective of a potential Personal Representative and the efficient probating of an estate, it is usually advantageous to see if the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem can be avoided, especially if there is no evidence of contentiousness between or among the potential Personal Representative and the incapacitated heirs or beneficiaries.

Exceptions to the Appointment of a Guardian ad Litem:

  • If a fiduciary, such as a Guardian, has already been appointed for the incapacitated person.
  • If Decedent’s Will has expressly nominated a Trustee or Custodian for the incapacitated person, in which case you should request the Court to confirm the appointment of the nominee as a fiduciary for the incapacitated person.
  • If Decedent’s surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary under Decedent’s Will, the incapacitated person is a minor child of Decedent and the surviving spouse, and the sole incapacity of the incapacitated person is their minority, in which case you should request the Court to waive the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem. RCW 11.76.080.

Procedure for Appointing a Guardian ad Litem:

If one or more heirs or beneficiaries of Decedent’s estate is incapacitated (such as due to minor age or disability), and none of the foregoing exceptions apply, download and complete a Motion for Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem. Download PDF or Word Doc version of the form.

Present the Motion for Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem at your hearing.

Procedure for Obtaining a Waiver Regarding the Appointment of Guardian ad Litem:

If one or more heirs or beneficiaries of Decedent’s estate is incapacitated, and your situation falls into the third exception described above, then download and complete a Motion for Order Waiving Appointment of Guardian ad Litem. Download a PDF or Word Doc version of the form.

Present the Motion for Order Waiving Appointment of Guardian ad Litem at your hearing.

King County Policy:

In King County, the policy is to appoint a Guardian ad Litem for a minor heir or beneficiary or class of similarly situated minor heirs or beneficiaries unless Decedent’s Will has nominated a Trustee or Custodian, as to consider the Guardian ad Litem‘s fees as an expense of administration, such that they are chargeable against the estate as a whole and not solely against the minor’s share. Jean L. Gompf and Craig E. Coombs, The Role of the GAL from Appointment through Discharge, in 13th Annual Trust and Estate Litigation Seminar, CLE, WSBA in partnership with RPPT Section, April 22, 2016. Located in the Library at KF 730,A2 T784.

Waivers of Notice by Trustees or Guardians

RCW 11.96A.140 provides that a Guardian of the Estate or a Guardian ad Litem may make a waiver on behalf of an incapacitated person, and that a Trustee may make a waiver on behalf of any competent or incapacitated beneficiary of the Trust.

Assets That Slip Through the Cracks

Tangible personal property, such as cash, bank and securities accounts, real property (land or homes), and so forth as all pretty self-evidence. Assets that are often overlooked usually fall through some of the following cracks:

  • Income items that were due and payable but not yet paid at the time of Decedent’s death. For example:
    • Interest due,
    • Paychecks due,
    • Refunds due,
    • Rents due, etc.
  • Security deposits
  • Cash value of insurance policies owned by Decedent on another person’s life
  • Decedent’s community property interest in surviving spouse’s IRAs and employee benefit plans

A Beneficiary Under Decedent’s Will

If in their Will, Decedent says “I give my car to my best friend, Jim,” shouldn’t Jim get the car when Decedent dies?

The answer is Yes, maybe…

Ownership

Decedent cannot give what Decedent does not own.

  • Did Decedent still own the car at the time of their death?
    • For example, after making the Will, Decedent might have sold the car, in which case the gift is “adeemed” (see ademption) and Jim gets nothing, at least not the car.
  • Is the car titled in the Decedent’s name?
  • Is the title to the car solely in Decedent’s name?
  • Is the form of ownership as Decedent’s own separate property (e.g. not in join tenancy)?
  • Was Decedent married at the time of their death?
    • If so, then despite what the title to the car says, the car will be presumed to be owned jointly by Decedent and their surviving spouse, each as to a one-half community interest – and despite whatever the Will says, Decedent is able only to give away their one-half interest in the car. RCW 26.16.030. In this situation, and without more, Jim now becomes a joint owner of the car with Decedent’s surviving spouse.
    • Assuming no other possible joint owner other than the surviving spouse, for Decedent to be able to give the car outright (i.e. all of it), either:
      • The car would have to be proven to be Decedent’s separate property (i.e. their surviving spouse has no interest in the car), or
      • The surviving spouse would have to consent to the gift or transfer their own one-half interest in the car to Decedent’s estate.

Omitted Heirs

There are what is known as “pretermitted or omitted heirs,” namely, persons who:

  • Became Decedent’s heirs after the Will’s execution (because of marriage or birth – e.g. child born after the execution of the Will),
  • Survived Decedent,
  • Were not named (they were “omitted”) or provided for in the Will, and
  • Were not lawfully disinherited in the Will

A surviving spouse can be an omitted heir (RCW 11.12.095), but usually it is surviving children born to the Decedent after the Will’s execution (RCW 11.12.091).

In general, despite the Will, an omitted heir is entitled to whatever they would have received had Decedent died without a Will (i.e. intestate).

Solvent Estate

As regards to the estate, are other assets available to pay Decedent’s debts and taxes? If not, then the gift will “abate,” the car will need to be sold to pay Decedent’s liabilities, and Jim will get only what remains of the sale proceeds. RCW 11.10.010.

Beneficiary Survivorship

Turning towards the beneficiary, has Jim survived the Decedent and any additional survival period stated for the gift? If not, then the gift “lapses” and neither Jim nor his estate, beneficiaries, or heirs are entitled to the gift. RCW 11.12.120.

Bottom-line

If the car has not been sold and it is titled only in Decedent’s name as their separate property, and if Decedent is not married at death, has named all of their surviving Children in the Will, and has sufficient other assets to pay for their debts and taxes, then if Jim is still alive and around after all of this, he will likely get the car after all.

Making Conformed Copies

A “conformed copy” is a copy:

  • Of an original document that has been filed with the Court, and
  • That has been “conformed” by your or the Court Clerk, by stamping the upper-right-hand corner of its first page with the date the original was filed, e.g., “Original filed XYZ County Superior court [Date.]”

For everything that you file with the Court:

  • Make sufficient copies of each original document, and
  • When you file any original document, obtain at least one date-stamped (i.e., “conformed”) copy of it for your records.

It is vital for you to have a record of everything that you have filed (and anybody else has filed) with the Court, and when and where it was filed.

If you file in Person at the Clerk’s Office:

  • The larger counties, such as King County, will simply provide near the filing window a table with hand Court stamps or a Court stamping machine where you may conform your own copies.
  • Other counties will provide court stamps at each filing window where you can conform your own copies.
  • In some counties, the Clerk will conform your copies for you.

Stamp the first page of each copy in its upper-right hand corner with the Court stamp.

If you file in Person with the Clerk of a Courtroom:

  • At the King County Courthouse, a Court stamping machine is available near the entry to the Ex Parte Courtrooms.
  • At Kent and in some other counties, Court stamps are available at or near the Clerk’s desk.
  • In some counties, the Clerk will conform your copies for you.

If you file by Mail:

Courts do not supply envelopes or postage. Make sure that you enclose:

  • Your original documents, marked “Original.”
    • One way to do this is to attach a post-it note marked “Original – File” to the top of each original.
  • At least one copy of each original document for conformation, marked “Copy.”
    • One way to do this is to attach a post-it note marked “Copy – Stamp & Return in Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope” to the top of the copies.
  • A self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage for return of your conformed copies.

Creditor’s Claim Procedure

Washington’s Creditor’s Claim Procedure, which, among other things, requires weekly publication of a Notice to Creditors in a legal newspaper for three successive weeks.

Advantages for doing so:

  • The time in which most creditors have to make their claim against Decedent’s assets is reduced:
    • From two years after Decedent’s date of death…
    • To four months after the first publication of the Notice to Creditors.
  • To force a creditor whose claim was presented but rejected to file a lawsuit on the rejection within one month of the rejection or be barred.
  • To obtain the benefits of a neutral, third party, e., the Court, for the resolution of any disputed claim.
  • Decedent’s probate estate (if any) may safely be closed and Decedent’s assets may reasonably be distributed to the takers a little after four months from Decedent’s date of death (e., promptly after four months after the first publication of the Notice to Creditors) instead of having to keep Decedent’s estate open for 24 months after Decedent’s death so that the Personal Representative will be available to respond to any dilatory creditor.
  • The takers will receive Decedent’s assets free from (almost) any fear of attachment and repossession by Decedent’s creditors, known or unknown – instead of having to wait 24 months after Decedent’s death to remove the cloud of a possible attachment and repossession of an estate asset.

Disadvantages for doing so:

  • Several hours of work to comply with Washington’s Creditor’s Claim Procedure, and
  • Usually a little over $100 to publish the Notice to Creditors (need to verify)
    • $105 in King County (need to verify)
    • $117 in Pierce County (need to verify)
    • $135 in Snohomish (need to verify)

Obtaining a Copy of A Death Certificate in King County

When Can I Get a Copy of the Death Certificate?

You can obtain a copy of the Decedent’s Death Certificate 30 days after their death.

Where do I get a copy of the Death Certificate? Vital Statistics Office

Harborview Medical Center
Ninth & Jefferson Building, 2nd Floor
908 Jefferson Street
Seattle, WA 98104

Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm

Metered street parking is available in the area. Parking in the Ninth & Jefferson Building garage is free for the first thirty minutes.

Ordering In-Person at the Vital Statistics Office & Purchase While You Wait:

  • How to Pay:
    • Payment accepted via cash, check, and money orders. Checks and money orders should be made payable to: Vital Statistics
    • Credit cards are not accepted in-person at Vital Statistics
  • Processing Time: After filling out the order form, the wait time is typically 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Hours of Operation: The Vital Statistics Office is open Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm.
  • Cost & Payment: $20
    • Death Certificates are $20.00 each (pay by cash, check, or money order)
    • Anytime a record is searched for but is not found, an $8.00 search fee is charged per the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 70.58.107).
    • If you just want a record search, not a copy of the Death Certificate, then the search fee is $8.00. The results from a record search simply verify that a record was found or not found. For information contained in a record, a certificate must be purchased.

Ordering by Mail with Payment by Check or Money Order

  • How to Order:
    • Download the mail-in form (pdf).
    • Print out the form, write in your information, and mail it in, along with your payment, to the address provided on the form:

King County Vital Statistics
Mailbox 359784
325 Ninth Ave
Seattle, WA 98104-2499

  • Cost & Payment: $24
    • Death certificates are $20.00 each (pay by check or money order)
    • In addition to the cost of the certificate, an additional fee of $4.00 per order applies when an order is submitted by mail and payment is made by check or money order.
    • If you just want a record search, not a copy of the Death Certificate, then the search fee is $8.00. The results from a record search simply verify that a record was found or not found. For information contained in a record, a certificate must be purchased.
    • Checks and money orders should be made payable to: Vital Statistics
  • Processing Time:
    • You can expect to receive your death certificate order in approximately 2-3 weeks when you choose the mail-in method.

Ordering Online, Fax, or By Phone with Payment by Credit Card

  • How to Order Online:
    • Visit the VitalCheck website and follow the instructions on the website
    • Processing Time:
      • All VitalCheck online orders are processed within 1-2 business day, and then sent by regular mail, unless you select rush delivery.
      • Rush delivery is available via UPS for an additional fee of $18.50
        • UPS rush delivery requires a signature when delivered
        • UPS will not deliver to P.O. Boxes
      • Cost: $32.50 (or $51.00 for Rush Delivery)
        • Death Certificates are $20.00 each.
        • A fee of $12.50 is added per order for credit card payments.
        • Rush delivery is available via UPS for an additional fee of $18.50
  • How to Order via Fax:
    • Download the Fax Order Form (pdf).
    • Print out the form, fill in the blanks, including your credit card information, and fax the form to (206) 897-4580
    • Processing Time:
      • All faxed orders are processed within 2-3 business days and then sent by regular mail, unless you select rush delivery.
      • Rush delivery is available via UPS for an additional fee of $18.50
        • UPS rush delivery requires a signature when delivered
        • UPS will not deliver to P.O. Boxes
      • Cost: $32.50 (or $51.00 for Rush Delivery)
        • Death Certificates are $20.00 each.
        • A fee of $12.50 is added per order for credit card payments.
        • Rush delivery is available via UPS for an additional fee of $18.50
  • How to Order over the Phone:
    • Call (206) 897-4551 during business hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm Pacific Time. Toll-free number: 1-800-325-6165, ext. 6-4768.
    • A credit card is required to order over the telephone.
    • Processing Time:
      • All telephone orders are processed within 1-2 business days and then sent by regular mail, unless you select rush delivery.
      • Rush delivery is available via UPS for an additional fee of $18.50
        • UPS rush delivery requires a signature when delivered
        • UPS will not deliver to P.O. Boxes
      • Cost: $32.50 (or $51.00 for Rush Delivery)
        • Death Certificates are $20.00 each.
        • A fee of $12.50 is added per order for credit card payments.
        • Rush delivery is available via UPS for an additional fee of $18.50

For more help with obtaining a Death Certificate in King County, visit the King County Public Health website.

For help obtaining a Death Certificate in another county in Washington, visit the Washington State Department of Health website.

Probate Filings & Hearings in King County: Downtown Seattle versus Kent

As shown on the King County Case Assignment Area Form and Case Index Cover Sheet (insert jumplink above), there are two venues in King County for probate filings and hearings:

  • For the Seattle Area: King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle
  • For the Kent Area: Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent
Downtown Seattle Kent
King County Superior Court
King County Courthouse – Room E609 (6th Floor)
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

King County Superior Court
Maleng Regional Justice Center (MRJC) – Room 2C (2nd Floor)
401 Fourth Avenue N
Kent, WA 98032

Does this mean that all Kent matters must be filed and heard in Kent and vice versa?

Can “Kent” documents be filed in “Downtown Seattle” (and vice versa)?

Yes. Any document for a King County matter may be filed at either the downtown Seattle King County Courthouse or in Kent at the Maleng Regional Justice Center.

Can “Kent” hearings be held in “Downtown Seattle” (and vice versa)?

Maybe. This situation is a little more complicated.

A hearing is required to be held at its proper venue (i.e. either downtown Seattle or in Kent) in two situations:

  1. The hearing involves a pre-filed Will (g., the hearing is on a Petition for Probate and the Will was previously filed alone as a “Will Only” filing); or
  2. The matter is required to be noticed for hearing.

A King county probate hearing may be held at either downtown Seattle’s King County Courthouse or at Kent’s Maleng Regional Justice Center if it:

  • Can be walked through the Court and
  • Does not involve a pre-filed Will (g. a hearing on any matter that does not concern a previously filed Will of Decedent).

What does this mean in terms of filing a Petition for Letters? In the simplest cases, both:

  • A Will and a Petition for Probate & Letters Testamentary are filed together
    • If Decedent died unmarried or without community property: filed by anyone, or
    • If Decedent died married and with community property not subject to a Community Property Agreement:
      • Filed by anyone after 40 days following Decedent’s death or
      • Filed by Decedent’s surviving spouse or their written designee; or
    • A Petition for Letters of Administration
      • If Decedent died unmarried: Filed by anyone, or
      • If Decedent died married: filed by Decedent’s surviving spouse

May be filed and heard at either the downtown Seattle King County Courthouse or the Kent Maleng Regional Justice Center.

When Must a Hearing Be Held at Its Proper Venue?

  1. Pre-filed Will (Will Only Filing): If the Will has been previously filed (g., a “Will Only” filing), then the Clerk’s Office will have opened a file for the Will and stored the file at its proper venue. At any hearing on a subsequently filed Petition for Letters (or any other matter that specifically involves the Will), the Court will want to review the original Will, and so the hearing must be held at the proper venue, where the Will is stored.
  2. Notice Required:
    1. For a Petition for Letters: If Notice is required to be sent to Decedent’s surviving spouse and they do not consent to the Petition or waive Notice.
    2. For a Petition for Nonintervention Powers (or any other Petition or Motion): If Notice is required to be sent to any person who does not consent to the Petition or waive Notice.
      1. Regarding the Petition for Nonintervention Powers, what this means is that if you:
        1. Cannot qualify for Nonintervention Powers under the first two of the three Nonintervention qualification provisions but only under the third, Catch-all provision (the only one that requires Notice to be sent), and
        2. Cannot obtain either a Consent to the Petition or a Waiver of Notice from everyone entitled to Notice,

Then the hearing must be held at its proper venue.

See: Filing Decedent’s Will by Itself (a Will Only Filing)

See: The Initial Filing in a New Case

Procedure for Filing Decedent’s Will

If Decedent died testate (i.e., with a Will), RCW 11.20.010 requires anyone having custody or control of a Will to either:

  • File it with the proper Court or deliver it to the person named in the Will as Decedent’s Personal Representative. Timing: Within 30 days after receiving knowledge of Decedent’s death.
  • If the person having custody or control of the Will is Decedent’s named Personal Representative, file it with the proper Court. Timing: Within 40 days after receiving knowledge of Decedent’s death.

RCW 11.20.010 requires the Will to be filed whether or not it will be offered for probate and provides for damages upon the failure to do so. Washington law does not require a Will to be probated, only to be filed promptly after a Decedent’s death.

Bottom-line:

If you are in possession of a Will of a Decedent, Washington law requires you to either promptly:

  • File it with the Court, or
  • Deliver it to the named Personal Representative (for their filing of the Will, usually together with a Petition for Letters).

Strategy:

If the Will is not likely to be probated (i.e., a Petition for Probate is not going to be filed soon):

If the Will is likely to be probated soon:

  • Deliver the original Will to Decedent’s first-named Personal Representative, as specified in the Will.
  • If the Will is likely to be probated soon and you file the Will as a Will Only, you will
    • Waste your $20 filing fee if a Petition for Probate will soon be filed, and
    • In King County, cause any later filed Petition for Probate to be required to be heard only at its proper venue (i.e., either downtown Seattle or Kent).

*Note About Filing the Original Will* The original of a Decedent’s Will is one of the very few types of documents that are saved and not discarded by the Clerk’s Office after scanning and electronic filing.

Filing Fees & Methods of Payment

The current (June 8, 2017) fee for filing a Will Only in King County Superior Court is $20, which is nonrefundable upon any subsequent filing of a Petition for Letters. Consequently, if a Petition for Letters will likely be filed, the fee for filing a Will may be avoided by filing the Will together with the Petition for Letters.

The current (June 8, 2017) fee for filing a Probate Petition for Letters Testamentary or of Administration in King County Superior Court is $240.

In King County Superior Court, filing fees may be paid by:

  • Cash,
  • Cashier’s check,
  • Money Order,
  • Credit or Debit, or
  • Personal Check
    • Personal checks must be made by a party to the action (e.g., you as the Petitioner)
    • On a pre-printed check from with your name and address imprinted on it, and
    • Drawn on a bank that does business in Washington.

Procedure for Filing Decedent’s Will by Itself (a “Will Only”)

In King County Superior Court,

The clerk will:

  • Stamp the documents on the upper-right hand corner as received, dated, and filed.
  • File the Will with the Court, in what is known as a “Will Only – Deceased” filing
  • Issue a new caption (In re Will of [name of Decedent]) and assign a case number to it.

In King County, both documents (the Assignment Area & Cover Sheet and the Will) will be scanned within the week to make their respective electronic document entry, and the Assignment Area & Cover Sheet will be discarded after a month. The Will will be entered into the Will Repository and will be permanently saved.

Where/Which Courthouse do you File the Will?

There are two locations in King County for probate filings and hearings:

  • Seattle Area: King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle
    Superior Court Clerk’s Office
    King County Courthouse – Room E-609 (6th Floor)
    516 Third Avenue
    Seattle, WA 98104
  • Kent Area: Maleng Regional Justice Center in downtown Kent
    Superior Court Clerk’s Office
    Regional Justice Center – Room 2C (2nd Floor)
    401 Fourth Avenue N
    Kent, WA 98032

Any Will may be filed either in person or by mail at either location. The Will must be filed, however, in the county of Decedent’s residence at death. So, if the Decedent, at the time of their death, was a resident of King County, then you should file their “Will Only” in King County Superior Court, at either courthouse location (Seattle or Kent).

Caution: If you plan on filing a Petition for Probate/Letters, you should wait and file the Will together with your Petition for two reasons:

  • To avoid paying the $20 filing fee for the Will alone, and
  • So that you are not limited to filing the Petition for Probate in the county of Decedent’s residence at death.
    • A Petition for Probate typically may be filed in any county in Washington, regardless of Decedent’s county of residence.
    • However, once a “Will Only” is filed, a Petition for Probate must be filed in the same county Superior Court.

Potential Problems

Decedent’s Will is in an inaccessible safe deposit box – see Access a Decedent’s Safe Deposit Box, above in FAQ.

Decedent’s Will is Lost or Destroyed – see Probating a Lost or Destroyed Will (link to Probate Instructions).

Decedent’s Will is not “Self-Proving” – see Probate Instructions (link to Probate Instructions).

Decedent’s Will Has Already Been Admitted to Probate in Another State (i.e., the “Domiciliary” state, making Washington the “Ancillary” state) – see Ancillary Probate (link to Probate Instructions).

An Heir of Decedent

If No Surviving Spouse?

If no surviving spouse:

  1. To Decedent’s surviving children and lower issue (i.e. grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) By Right of Representation (also known as “per stirpes,” as the relevant portion of a genealogical diagram, looks like a stirrup). In other words, equally among Decedent’s children, and with the children of any predeceased child of Decedent taking equally in the place of that predeceased child (i.e., Decedent’s grandchildren). For example, assume one of Decedent’s children died before the Decedent – also known as predeceased; that deceased child’s children take in place of the Decedent’s child.
  2. Only if no surviving child or lower issue: All to Decedent’s surviving parent or to Decedent’s surviving parents equally (i.e. up one generation).
  3. Only if no surviving parent: To the surviving children and lower issue of Decedent’s parents by right of representation (i.e. brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, etc.).
  4. Only if no such surviving children or lower issue: All to Decedent’s surviving grandparent or to Decedent’s surviving grandparents such that if both maternal and paternal grandparents survive Decedent, then each side takes equally (i.e. up two generations).
  5. Only if no such surviving grandparent: To the surviving children and lower issue of Decedent’s grandparents (i.e. aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), with the amounts as described in RCW 11.04.015(2)(e).
  6. And only if no heirs as above, i.e., no surviving:
    • Children & lower issue,
    • Parents & lower issue, and
    • Grandparents & lower issue:
      To the State of Washington (the property “escheats” to the state). RCW 11.08.140.

Separate vs. Community Property?

Before looking at what happens when there is a surviving spouse, we need to differentiate between separate and community property and raise the issue of quasi-community property:

  • Separate property is property owned before marriage or acquired after marriage by gift (either during the donor’s life or at the donor’s death, i.e.RCW 26.16.020 by bequest (personal property by Will), devise (real property by Will), or descent (by inheritance, without a Will)), together with their rents, issues, and profits (e.g.RCW 26.16.010 interest, dividends, rents, appreciation, sale proceeds, etc.). (Separate Property of Spouse) and (Separate Property of Domestic Partner).
  • Community property is property not owned or acquired as above but acquired after marriage – by either or both of the husband and wife (or partner(s)). RCW 26.16.030. Furthermore, the statute expressly provides that neither spouse has the right to give during life community property without the consent of the other or to give at death more than one-half of the community property.

Quasi-Community Property?

At first glance, quasi-community property is property acquired by a Decedent while residing outside of Washington that would have been community property of the Decedent and their surviving spouse or domestic partner if the Decedent had been residing in Washington when the property was acquired. RCW 26.16.220.

Consequently, quasi-community property is usually not an issue for a Decedent who, during the marriage, has been either a lifetime resident of Washington or a resident of any of the other eight community property states (e.g., Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin).

Quasi-community property, however, does become an issue for a Decedent who acquired property during the marriage while living in any of the other, separate property states, where property acquired during the marriage is generally considered to be owned all by the husband. One can understand why a wife might want this “all owned by the husband” consideration to be revisited upon her husband’s death, especially if the husband attempts to dispose by Will of more than half of the property acquired during their marriage.

In Washington, quasi-community property is treated at death like community property. RCW 26.16.230. If the possibility of quasi-community exists in your matter, Washington Probate recommends that you seek legal counsel. Now, let us return to the issues of:

  • Who are Decedent’s heirs if Decedent is survived by a spouse, and
  • To what are they entitled?

If a Surviving Spouse?

As to community property, the surviving spouse:

  • Keeps all of their own one-half interest, and
  • Inherits all of Decedent’s one-half interest in their community property.

In other words, when Decedent dies, the surviving spouse takes all their collective community property (and generally their quasi-community property as well).

As to separate property, the surviving spouse inherits:

  • One-half – if Decedent is survived by any children or lower issue, with those children and lower issue taking the remaining one-half by right of representation.
  • Or, if Decedent is not survived by any children or lower issue – three-quarters – if Decedent is survived by one or more parents or one or more issue of parents, with those parents or issue taking the remaining one-quarter equally if in the same degree of kinship and, if not, then by right of representation.
  • Or, if Decedent is not survived by one or more parents or one or more issue of parents: all of Decedent’s separate property.

Surviving Spouse vs. Children of a Prior Marriage?

Many probate disputes involve the following circumstances:

  • During their life, Decedent married, had children, then divorced;
  • During the marriage, Decedent acquired property, some of which was kept following divorce;
  • Decedent remarries and brings some property to the remarriage;
  • During the remarriage, Decedent acquires further property; and
  • Decedent dies without a Will.

The situation is complicated further by any of the following circumstances:

  • Decedent’s second spouse has their own children of a prior marriage;
  • Decedent has children of the remarriage; or
  • During the remarriage, Decedent and their spouse resided and acquired property in another state and then moved to Washington, especially if the prior state was not a “community property” state.

These circumstances generate a classic probate dispute between Decedent’s surviving spouse and Decedent’s children of a prior marriage. The spouse wants the property characterized as community property, so it will all pass to them. The children want the property characterized as separate property, so at least a share of it will pass to them. Typically, this results in an expensive legal and accounting nightmare called “tracing,” to determine for each property in the estate its separate or community character:

  • Who acquired it?
  • When was it acquired?
  • How was it acquired?
  • What funds were used to acquire it?
  • It it was titled:
    • How was title held (e.g. by whom? and with any designation, such as in joint tenancy or as separate or community property?)?
    • Was the way the title was held truly reflective of the parties’ intent (e.g., if it was in joint tenancy form, was this simply for convenience?)?
  • Were there any outside agreements as to who really owned the property or how it would pass upon Decedent’s death (e.g. was the property subject to a Community Property Agreement?)?

If any of these circumstances are present in your matter, seek the help of an attorney. If any of these circumstances are present in your own personal situation, then make a will, one that clearly and unambiguously specifies who gets what and does so for all possible outcomes and conditions.

How Can I Keep Track of the Progress of Decedent’s Probate Estate? A Request for Special Notice

If you qualify to do so, you may file a Request for Special Notice and serve a copy of it on the Personal Representative or their attorney. RCW 11.28.240.

Qualifications:

To qualify to file a Request for Special Notice:

  • A Personal Representative must have been appointed, and
  • You must be “interested in the estate,” as described in Rights to Notice & to Be Heard in Probate Litigation insert link).

Result of Filing and Serving a Valid Request for Special Notice:

As a result of filing and serving a valid Request for Special Notice, you are entitled to receive:

  • A copy of many of the Personal Representative’s filings, including petitions, accounts, and claims, in the probate proceeding, as well as
  • At least ten days’ notice of any hearing on any such petition, account, or claim.

Practically speaking, however, Requests for Special Notice are largely relevant only with traditional estates, i.e., those in which the Personal Representative lacks Nonintervention Powers. A Nonintervention Powers Personal Representative has very limited reason to file anything with the Court except a Declaration of Completion of Probate at the conclusion of administration, making a Request for Special Notice largely moot in this circumstance (unless the Personal Representative files a Petition for Appointment of Personal Representative and after being so appointed files a Petition for Nonintervention Powers, as described in the foregoing section).

Bottom-line: File and serve a Request for Special Notice if you qualify and believe that it is in your interest to file one, but, as long as the Personal Representative maintains their Nonintervention Powers, it is unlikely that anything significant will come from it.

Procedure & Form:

To file and serve a Request for Special Notice:

  • Download, complete, and sign a Request for Special Notice & Declaration of Mailing form. Download a PDF or Word Doc version of the form.
  • File the original form with the Court, and
  • Mail a copy of the form to the Personal Representative or their attorney, by Certified Mail – Return Receipt Requested.

King County Superior Court Clerk’s Office

Locations:

Downtown Seattle:

Kent:

Superior Court Clerk’s Office
King County Courthouse
Room E-609
(6th Floor, across the hall from the Law Library)
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Superior Court Clerk’s Office
Regional Justice Center
Room 2C (2nd Floor)
401 Fourth Ave N
Kent, WA 98032

Hours:

Monday through Friday 9:00am – 12:15pm and 1:15pm – 4:30pm, except Court Holidays.

Limited Services from 12:15pm – 1:15pm.

Telephone Numbers:

Main: (206) 296-9300

Downtown Seattle: (206) 477-0848

Kent: (206) 477-3047

Receptionist/Information Desk:

A receptionist for obtaining further information in person is available immediately upon entry.

Paying, Filing, & Conforming:

In Seattle:

  • The filing windows and dropbox are at the end of the hallway to the left after you enter the Clerk’s Office.
    • The cashiers/filing clerks (the sign says “Cashiers/New Filings… Payments”) are on the right after entering the Clerk’s Office. You will need to go there if you have anything more than documents to file.
    • The “dropbox” (the sign says “Document Drop Bin”) is on the wall at the end of the hallway to the left after you enter the Clerk’s Office. You can deposit into the dropbox any documents that only need to be filed or have a hearing noted.
  • The stamping machines for conforming your copies (the sign says “Do Not Stamp Originals”) are on the long shelf to the left of the dropbox (to the left after you enter the Clerk’s Office).
  • Remember that filing anything (such as a Will or a Petition for Letters) that necessitates the opening of a new file in the Court Clerk’s Office requires the simultaneous filing of a King County Case Assignment Area Form and Case Designation Cover Sheet.

In Kent: the “dropbox” and stamping machine are across the aisle from the cashiers’ windows.

Obtaining Files:

In both Seattle and Kent, the windows where Court files and documents may be obtained are down the hallway to the right after you enter the Clerk’s Office.

  • See The Washington Superior Court Database & How to Access It (link to Probate Practice Part I)
  • See How Do I Determine if a Probate (or Guardianship) for a Named Decedent (or Incapacitated Person) Has Been Filed in Washington? (link to Probate Practice Part II)
  • King County Superior Court Case Search (by Name or Case Number)

Obtaining Copies:

The Copy Center is to the right of the Court files window Copies of documents (e.g. a Will) on file in the Court Clerk’s Office are available there (in person or by mail) for a charge.

See How Can I Obtain a Copy of a Document, such as a Will, Filed in a Probate or Guardianship Proceeding in Washington? (link to Probate Practice Part III)

Other Information:

King County Superior Court Clerk’s Website

Filing Decedent’s Will by Itself (a “Will Only”): see “Filing Decedent’s Will” in FAQ

The Initial Filing in a New Case (link to Probate Practice Part III)

Probate Notice Periods

Petition for Probate of Lost Will

20 days’ notice to all heirs, beneficiaries, and transferees (including a copy of proposed lost Will).

RCW 11.20.070(1) & 11.96A.110

Petition for Letters Testamentary

If filed within 40 days of Decedent’s date of death and estate contains community property, then 10 days’ notice to be sent to surviving spouse (technically, “as the Court may determine”). But see KCLCR 98.04(b) requiring 14 day notice.

RCW 11.28.131 & KCLCR 98.04(b)

Petition for Letters of Administration (either general or with Will Annexed

10 days’ notice to be sent to surviving spouse. But see KCLCR 98.04(b) requiring 14 day notice.

RCW 11.28.030 & KCLCR 98.04(b)

Petition for Nonintervention Powers

Notice required only if qualification is under “catch all” provision (i.e., “not a creditor” & “in the best interests”), then 10 days’ notice in statutorily required form to be sent to all heirs and beneficiaries. But see KCLCR 98.04(b) requiring 14 day notice.

RCW 11.68.041(3) & KCLCR 98.04(b)

Petition for Determination re Nonintervention Powers Upon Estate Insolvency

Petition to be filed within 10 days of becoming aware that estate appears to be insolvent & 20 days’ notice to be sent to all takers and unpaid creditors.

RCW 11.68.080(2) & RCW 11.96A.110

Petition for Order re Reasonable Review to Ascertain Decedent’s Creditors

20 days’ notice to be sent to all heirs, beneficiaries, and possible creditors, and publication to be made in legal newspaper.

RCW 11.40.040(3) & RCW 11.96A.110

Petition for Order Allowing Creditor’s Claim of Personal Representative

20 days’ notice to be sent to all heirs and beneficiaries.

RCW 11.40.140 & RCW 11.96A.110

Petition for Status Report

Petition may be filed by qualified taker after anniversary of Personal Representative’s appointment & heard after 20 days’ notice to any heir or beneficiary who has not received a full distribution.

RCW 11.68.065 & RCW 11.96A.110

Request for Special Notice

After filing & serving a Request for Special Notice, party is entitled to 10 days’ notice by mail or 5 days’ notice by personal service before hearing on any matter described in RCW 11.28.240. But see KCLCR 98.04(b) requiring 14 day notice.

RCW 11.28.240 & KCLCR 98.04(b)

Walking a Matter Through Court

If you want the Court to approve a request that either:

  • Does not require notice to be given, or
  • Does require notice to be given but you have obtained from all of the parties to whom notice is required to be given either:
    • A written Consent for whatever it is that you are asking the Court to approve, or
    • A written Waiver of Notice of the Court’s hearing on your request

Then you may ask the Court to approve your requests at an ex parte hearing, using a procedure that is informally known as Walking a Matter through Court. You may either walk your matter through Court in person or, for a fee of $30 in King County by mail.

Walking a Matter through Court in Person

To “Walk Your Matter though Court” in person:

  • Telephone the probate clerk and find when ex parte probate matters are heard.
    • King County Ex Parte & Probate Department: (206) 477-2517
  • If your case has a “hardcopy” case file, obtain it at the Court Clerk’s Office and take it to the Court that is hearing ex parte probate matters.
    • King County Superior Court Clerk:
      • 6th Floor of King County Courthouse in Downtown Seattle
      • 2nd Floor of Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent

Many matters heard by an Ex Parte Court will be in cases whose documents are available only on computer (i.e. not in “hard copy”) (this is specifically all those originally filed after 1999). In these hearings, the Judge will need to bring up the case on their computer and review its history, as revealed in its prior filed documents shown individually on their computer monitor. This is a slow, time-consuming task. Be alert to assist the Judge in any way that you can, for example: By handling the Judge a conformed copy of any especially relevant prior Order or, by answering the Judge’s questions directly as opposed to “That’s shown in my submitted documents,” or “that’s shown in the court files.”

  • Hand any hardcopy file to the Judge’s clerk and tell them that you have an ex parte Petition (e.g., a Petition for Nonintervention Powers)
  • Hand the clerk your documents in the following order:
    • The original of your proposed Order
    • The original of your Petition
    • The original of any Consents & Waivers you may have, and
    • Any further supporting documents or evidence that would assist the Judge to determine that what you are requesting is consistent with the law.

In King County, do not hand the clerk any copies for conformation – you can conform your own copies with the stamps available in the common area of the Ex Parte Department in downtown Seattle or at the back of the Courtroom in Kent.

  • When the clerk calls your matter, following the hearing procedure that you followed when you asked the Court for Letters. (see Appearing in Probate Court).
  • The Judge may ask you some questions. For example, with a Petition for Nonintervention Powers for which you have obtained Consents & Waivers, the Judge may want to verify that:
    • Everyone entitled to notice signed a Consent & Waiver,
    • All the persons who signed them were competent adults, and
    • If any were signed on behalf of another (g. a minor) the signatory was entitled to sign on the other’s behalf.
  • The Judge will likely review your proposed Order, sign it, and return it to you along with any hardcopy file.
  • If you need a certified copy of the Order:
    • Return any hardcopy file and the signed Order to the Clerk’s Office, and
    • Obtain a certified copy of the Order.

You have now:

  • Walked your matter through Court in person,
  • Come out with your Order signed by the Judge, and
  • Avoided having to:
    • Set a hearing,
    • Give timely notice of it to all the interested parties, and
    • Wait for the notice period to expire before your matter can be heard.

Walking a Matter through Court by Mail

If you do not want to “walk your matter through Court” in person, many Clerk’s offices will do it for you for a presentation fee plus any other applicable fees (e.g., for Letters or certified copies). Note: this is not a filing fee (which you have already paid at your initial filing), but a fee charged by the Clerk’s Office for work out of its usual course of business. RCW 36.18.016(12). Specifically, the fee includes the work of:

  • Taking your documents, including your proposed Order, to an ex parte Judge,
  • Presenting them to the Judge, and
  • Filing the signed Order.

The Ex parte presentation fee for King County is $30.

Your request to the Clerk’s Office should be made in a cover letter, noting the case and its case number, outlining the circumstances, describing what you want the Clerk to do, and enclosing duplicates of all documents for conformation and a self-addressed stamped envelope for returning the conformed copies to you.

Caution: A major advantage of appearing personally in Court is that you will be there to answer any questions the Judge may have or to correct any errors or omissions in your documents that the Judge might detect. If you choose not to appear and to have the Clerk present your matters on your behalf, make doubly sure that your documents are complete and correct, as you will be relying on their “speaking for themselves” without the need for any additional testimony, and the Judge will likely not approve them if any questions arise.

What are “Letters”?

Typically, a third party, most often times a bank or brokerage, will tell you “You need Letters in order to access Decedent’s account.”

Letters are the name of the document obtained from the Probate Court that authorizes you to act on behalf of the Decedent, as his/her Personal Representative.

  • If Decedent died with a Will (testate), the Letters are called Letters Testamentary and their holder is known as the “Executor of the Will.”
  • If Decedent died without a Will (intestate), the Letters are called Letters of Administration and their holder is known as the “Administrator of the Estate.”
  • Anyone holding Letters (of whatever kind) is generically known as “Decedent’s Personal Representative.”

Obtaining Letters entails opening a probate for the Decedent’s estate (property held in his/her name). Before doing so, however, make sure that a probate is actually needed, or whether, despite whatever the third party says, a probate might be avoidable. See Is Probate Necessary?

Working Copies

The following discusses Working Copies and a proposed Order for purposes of King County probate practice. See King County Local Rule KCLCR 98.04(b)(6). Working Copies are required in some other counties – check your county’s Local Rules.

What Are “Working Copies”?

“Working Copies” are:

  • A copy of each document that you have filed with the Clerk’s Office and set a hearing for them to be heard by the Court, and
  • A copy of your proposed Order

That you are required to mark in a specified manner and deliver to the Court’s Probate Department at least so many days in advance of your hearing. The number of days depends on the type of document that is filed. See King County Local Rule KCLCR 98.04(b)(6).

When Are Working Copies Required?

In King County, Working Copies are required for all contested matters and those requiring Notice – that is, just about every document that you file with the Court and that is to be heard, with the following exceptions:

  • A Petition for Letters (appointment of a Personal Representative) as long as no Notice to Decedent’s surviving spouse is required, and
  • Any matter that you can “Walk through the Court” (insert link – Part 5 of Part II of Probate Court Practice) – that is, just about any matter for which you have a written Consent or Waiver of Notice from all the interested parties.

How Are Working Copies Required to Be Marked?

Working Copies are required to be marked on the upper right-hand corner of the first page of each document as follows:

  • “Working Copies” or “Working Papers”
  • The name of the Court calendar, for example, “Probate Review Calendar.”
  • The date and time of the hearing, for example, “January 2, 2018, 10:30 AM.”
  • The character of the party presenting them, for example, “Petitioner” or “Objector.”

Where and When Are Working Copies Required to be Delivered?

Working Copies are required to be delivered:

  • To the Probate Department of the Court in which your matter is being heard.
    • King County Downtown Seattle:
      Ex Parte & Probate Department
      King County Courthouse – Room C-203 (2nd Floor)
      516 Third Avenue
      Seattle, WA 98104
    • King County Kent:
      Ex Parte & Probate Department
      Maleng Regional Justice Center – Room 2D (2nd Floor)
      401 Fourth Ave N
      Kent, WA 98032
  • At least 7 days in advance of the hearing date for initiating documents, such as Petitions and Motions.
  • By noon at least 4 days in advance of the hearing date for responsive documents, such as Objections.
  • By noon at least 2 days in advance of the hearing for reply documents, such as Replies to Objections.

Why Are Working Copies Required At All?

“Back in the old days,” Court files consisted of all the “hardcopy” documents filed in a case. Many Courts, such as those in King County, now scan “hardcopy” documents and convert them into “electronic” documents and discard the scanned “hardcopies” (except for Wills and certain other irreplaceable documents), resulting in Court files being nothing but electronic records of electronic documents (plus the “hardcopy” of any original, filed Will, etc.).

With the old system, the Clerk’s Office would collect and deliver to each Judge the Court files for all the cases they were scheduled to hear the following day, allowing the Judge to review the documents to be heard and prepare for the next day’s hearings. In the absence of hardcopy documents, this process is no longer possible. Working Copies serve as the replacement to this process.

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