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Estate administration underway for missing Washington daughter

Kent residents may have heard the tragic story about a man who set fire to a rental home in the town of Graham, killing himself and his two children. With the man's wife having been missing since December 2009, the woman's parents turned to the Washington courts for authority to oversee the administration of her estate. The court relied on a probate law aimed particularly at missing person cases in order to appoint the parents as special estate administrators.

The appointment enabled the parents to clear the title to an out-of-state home jointly owned by their daughter and her husband. With the title to the property in their names, the parents are now responsible for collecting rent under a preexisting rent-to-own agreement and maintaining the mortgage on the property. They are also in the process of seeking a court order for the distribution of proceeds from life insurance policies in the names of their missing daughter and her husband.

Additionally, the woman's parents were appointed as personal administrators of their grandchildren's estates. That appointment gave them authority to receive and manage the proceeds of life insurance policies naming the grandchildren as beneficiaries.

In times of loss and uncertainty, the complexity of probate proceedings can seem like a daunting obstacle to pile on top of emotional distress. Skillful estate administration may not be able to heal the pain of loss, but it can help ease the burden of grieving family members by clearing a path for the efficient management of a loved one's affairs. Washingtonians coping with the loss of a loved one will benefit from an understanding of estate administration procedures and the resources available to assist in the process.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Susan Powell's parents take control of her Utah home," Brooke Adams, May 30, 2012

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