Probate and small estates

What to do after a death

Legal Voice has a checklist with a list of steps to take after death, including both immediate steps as well as later steps to take regarding property, finances, and papers. The list is available in English, Spanish, and Russian.


Probate is the legal process for distributing a person's property and paying their debts after they have died.

  • Washington (State) Probate can help you decide if probate is necessary and learn about what you need to do and how to do it.
  • Nolo's legal encyclopedia has an overview of Washington probate that can also help you decide if probate is necessary or if a Small Estate Affidavit is an option.
  • Information about probate, alternatives to probate, instructions, and forms is available at Washington (State) Probate.
  • King County Probates is a site created by an attorney in King County. While there is some information specific to that county, most of it is general information about forms and procedures that would apply anywhere in Washington.

Self-help kits from the law library

The law library sells two self-help kits to assist with probate:

self-help form kits

Both kits have forms and instructions to open and close a simple probate. They do not cover administration of the estate. Kits can be purchased at the library or online and mailed out.

Small estates

A Small Estate Affidavit might apply to your situation. If you qualify, this process is cheaper and easier than the probate process.

Can you use a Small Estate Affidavit?

The King County Law Library has an infographic that may help you decide if you meet the requirements:

Where can you get a Small Estate Affidavit?

You can read information, get instructions, and download forms for a Small Estate Affidavit at Washington LawHelp.

self-help form kits

The law library sells a Small Estate Affidavit self-help kit that includes flowcharts to help with decision-making and procedures as well as more detailed information and instructions.