• Law Office of Christopher R. Chicoine

How Do I Find Out If Someone Else Started Probate For My Deceased Relative?

This is a common question for several good reasons. Anyone interested in becoming an executor must first confirm another person has not already been appointed. Some are rightfully concerned another relative may want to gain control of decedent’s assets for the wrong reasons. This article explores not only how to determine whether a probate case has commenced in Washington state, but also how to obtain filed documents to learn the status of that case as well as any upcoming deadlines or hearings.

How to Look For an Open Probate Case in Washington

Do a Washington statewide case search by clicking the following link. Alternatively, do a google search of “Washington case search”. This will take you to the Washington court system website. From there click the “case search” tab on the home page.

Once you reach the case search page, you will be asked to complete various fields to run your case search. Enter “Superior Courts” in the court level field. Washington superior courts have jurisdiction to hear probate case. Therefore, all petitions to open a probate proceeding and get appointed as executor in a probate case must be filed in a superior court in Washington.

In the “Search by Type” filed select name search.

The “Court Name” field is the superior court in which the case was filed. Each county has its own superior court. You may have to run multiple searches to get the correct county. Typically, this will be the county where decedent resided, maintained assets, or where the petitioning executor lives.

In the case type field, enter “Probate/Guardianship.”

In the “Year Filed In/After” field, enter January 1 of the year in which the decedent passed.

In the first and last name search fields, enter the name of decedent.

The results from this will give you the case number.

How to Obtain Probate Court Documents to Determine What’s Happened Already

Once you obtain the case number and the court in which the probate case is pending, it is relatively simple to obtain case documents.

If the case is pending in King County, go to ECR online (electronic court records) to obtain documents. First time users will need to create an account and put money into it to download the documents. Alternatively, go to King County Superior Court Clerk’s page by clicking here or googling King County case records search. One the left-hand side of the page click “ECR Online/e-Access Documents.

In most other counties, such as Snohomish County, you can look at case activity (but not view case documents) using the Odyssey Portal by clicking here.

Infrequent Odyssey portal users can visit the Snohomish County clerk in person to purchase copies of documents, or purchase the documents online via Washington State Digital Archives portal.

Click here to access case documents via Washington State Digital Archives portal. You will need to qualify your search by selecting the court and inputting the case number (obtain from Washington case search above). From there you can select the documents you wish to purchase. This option is available for probate cases in the following counties: Chelan, Franklin, Columbia, Island, Jefferson, Snohomish, Skagit, Kitsap and Kittitas.

Appointed Executor Must Give Heirs Notice of Appointment and Pendency of Probate

If another person was appointed executor and/or opened a probate case, by law that person must give each heir notice of appointment and pendency of the probate case within 20 days following appointment. This goes to each “heir, legatee and devisee of the estate and each beneficiary or transferee of a nonprobate asset of the decedent.” RCW 11.28.237. In addition, the appointed executor must file an affidavit under penalty of perjury that he/she provided you (if you are an individual entitled to such notice) with such notice.

Attorney, Chris Chicoine

Estate Planning, Probate


Christopher R. Chicoine, PLLC


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