First, the law: RCW 11.20.010
Duty of custodian of will – Liability.
Any person having the custody or control of any will shall, within thirty days after he shall have received knowledge of the death of the testator, deliver said will to the court having jurisdiction or to the person named in the will as executor, and any executor having in his custody or control any will shall within forty days after he received knowledge of the death of the testator deliver the same to the court having...
Absolutely necessary? No --- but in my opinion, you're playiing with fire not to do so.
The point is to have a clearly defined boundary between your individual actions & funds & the actions that you take & the funds you receive & pay in your fiduciary capacity on behalf of the Decedent. Simply put, those two sets of funds should never be mixed --- "commingled." Practically, speaking, the way to isolate them is for you to keep your own funds in your own account, to create...
IRAs can't pass to a beneficiary is there is no named beneficiary or if the named beneficiary has died before the IRA's owner. In that case, they typically pass to the Decedent's probate estate; some IRA contracts, however, provide that they pass to "the next of kin," in other words, to the Decedent's heirs.
JTWROS assets do pass to the surviving joint owners or owner. WA law does provide, however, for joint ownership that is not "with right of survivorship." In that case,...
While WA law does provide that a Decedent's Will is required to be filed with the Court (which is often ignored), WA law does not provide that a probate is required to be opened for any estate, including one having $100,000 or more of assets. That is entirely the decision of the Decedent's survivors.
The problem is that in blunt terms, the typical purpose of probate is to remove the Decedent's name from the title to any of his or her property that is titled in his or her...
Unless you are his blood daughter or if adopted you, you are not his heir.
Unless he provided for you in his Will, you are not a beneficiary of his estate.
The WA family support laws (RCW 11..54) provide that a surviving spouse (or registered domestic partner) or an authorized person on behalf of a minor child can petition the Court for a family award from the Decedent's estate. As you don't appear to be either his surviving wife or minor child, you don't appear...
What I understand is:
1. During his life, Decedent purchased or otherwise acquired a stable of cars etc.
2. He obtained their title documents from their sellers but never bothered to go through the process of transferring their titles into his own name.
3. During his life, he told you you could keep one or more of them, &, with his approval, you took some of them, which you have continued to retain.
4. He's died.
You now ask "Who owns all his vehicles?"
It's unclear to me whether a probate estate was ever opened or if it was opened but you were not the one to open it.
If no probate has been opened, I'd suggest that you open it yourself. I have PR clients from every state in the union, so you're being out of state is moot.
If a probate has been opened, I'd suggest that you file a Notice of Appearance & Request for Special Notice in it & pursue your right to its assets as an heir or beneficiary.
You can't use a Small Estate Affidavit to access his bank account or an Affidavit of Inheritance to transfer his vehicles, because that requires your father's estate to be solvent (ie, his debts to have been paid or provided for), which it is not.
It would not be cost effective for you to open a probate for his estate --- the legal fees would consume what little he left & probating an insolvent estate is not a "do-it-yourself" task.
What you could do is...
Assets acquired prior to marriage & maintained as separate property remain separate property.
Assets received by gift or inheritance during marriage & maintained as separate property remain separate property.
All other assets acquired during marriage are community property.
At the death of a spouse having no Will:
All the community property passes to the surviving spouse.
One-half of the separate property passes to the surviving spouse.
The other half...
I respectfully suggest that all of the foregoing responses are incorrect.
WA law (RCW 30.22.040) provides for two different types of joint bank accounts:
1. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship, in which the surviving joint tenants succeed to the interest of a deceased joint owner. This is the type of joint account to which the former responses refer. For a joint account to be a JTWROS account, WA law requires in to expressly state that it is a JTWROS account ---...