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Real Property, Probate, & Trust: Research Resources

Prepared by Sherry Leysen (2013) for the WSBA Real Property, Probate, and Trust Mid-Year Meeting.

Introduction

This guide provides a basic introduction to select resources and starting points for researching Washington real property, probate, and trust issues, and is not intended to be all-inclusive. It includes online resources and search tips for no-cost/low-cost research, with an emphasis on Washington state law.

Note: Links to Gallagher Law Library or WorldCat catalog records are provided where relevant, and call numbers are to materials available in Gallagher Law Library unless noted otherwise. LexisNexis and Westlaw access is limited to individuals with their own IDs and passwords. Access to HeinOnline, LegalTrac, and LexisNexis Academic is UW Restricted. When you are working off-campus, remember to login with your UW NetID and password before accessing UW Restricted databases.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources provide an excellent starting point for a legal researcher. Secondary sources typically introduce a topic, provide an overview of the law, and offer analysis and commentary helpful to a legal researcher's understanding of an area of law. Secondary sources also provide references to the relevant primary authority a legal researcher needs, including federal and state statutes, cases (court opinions), and administrative decisions, rules, and regulations.

Examples of secondary sources include books, articles, legal encyclopedias, treatises, and attorney practice materials.

Finding Books & Reference Materials

Use Gallagher Law Library's online catalog to find reference materials, books, and journals.

Useful subject headings include:

  • Real property -- Washington (State)
  • Land use -- Law and legislation -- Washington (State)
  • Probate law and practice -- Washington (State)
  • Probate law and practice -- United States
  • Probate law and practice -- Washington (State) -- Forms
  • Estate planning -- Washington (State)
  • Estates (Law) -- Washington State
  • Wills -- Washington (State)
  • Inheritance and succession -- Washington (State)
  • Procedure (Law) -- Washington (State) -- Forms

Practitioner Materials

Note: Many Washington State Bar Association materials are available through Casemaker Libris.

Real Property

  • William B. Stoebuck & Jason W. Weaver, Real Estate: Property Law in Washington Practice, volumes 17 & 18 (last updated in 2012). Located in the Reference Area at KFW80 .W3.

Probate & Estate Planning

  • Robert S. Mucklestone, Washington Probate Procedure and Tax Manual with Forms (3rd ed. 2009). Located in the Reference Area at KFW144. W28 2009. This two-volume loose leaf manual is published by the Washington State Bar Association (see the Table of Contents for chapter coverage). It offers guidance on handling the administration of a typical estate in Washington State, and includes many useful sample forms and checklists.
  • Washington Probate Deskbook (Thomas R. Andrews, John R. Price, & Mark Reutlinger, eds. 2005). Located in the Reference Area at KFW 144 .A75 W37 2005. This loose leaf manual is a companion volume to the Washington Estate Planning Deskbook, and is published by the Washington State Bar Association (see the Table of Contents for chapter coverage). It covers the process for probate of a will and property distribution, and includes sample forms and checklists. Practice tips and caveats are included throughout the work.
  • Washington Estate Planning Deskbook (Thomas R. Andrews, John R. Price, & Mark Reutlinger, eds. 2005). Located in the Reference Area at KFW 140 .A75 W37 2005. This loose leaf manual is a companion volume to the Washington Probate Deskbook, and is published by the Washington State Bar Association (see the Table of Contents for chapter coverage). This work covers the process for probate of a will and property distribution, and includes sample forms and checklists. Practice tips and caveats are included.
  • Mark Reutlinger, Washington Law of Wills and Intestate Succession (2nd ed. 2005). Located in the Reference Area at KFW144 .R48 2006. This hardbound volume is published by the Washington State Bar Association, and covers intestacy, execution of wills, grounds for contest, will substitutes and will contracts, probate and administration, and more. Includes an index (490 pages).
  • King County Probate Policy & Procedure Manual (2011). Located in the Reference Area at KFW144 .K56 2011. This guide includes a detailed table of contents covering 22 articles such as general procedures, jurisdiction and venue, opening probate, will contests, and more (102 pages).

Combined Works

  • Washington Lawyer's Practice Manual (updated 2012). Published by the King County Bar Association, this five volume loose leaf manual includes detailed table of contents, forms, and practical guidance in chapters covering:
    • Real property practice (volume 5, chapter 14)
    • Probate, guardianship, and estate planning (volume 6, chapter 10)
    • General tax practice (volume 6, chapter 11)
    • Land use and environmental law (volume 7, chapter 23)

Legal Ethics

  • Tom Andrews, Rob Aronson, Mark Fucile, Art Lachman, The Law of Lawyering (2012). Located in the Reference Area at KFW76.5.A2 A53 2012. This loose-leaf manual published by the Washington State Bar Association covers rules of professional conduct, the attorney-client relationship, and more.
  • Washington Legal Ethics Deskbook (Gail McMonagle & Mark J. Fucile, eds. 2003 - ). Located in the Reference Area at KFW76.5.A2 W37 2003. This loose leaf manual published by the Washington State Bar Association covers Washington ethics in eighteen chapters.

Form Books

In addition to the forms provided in the Practitioners Materials above, general form sources include:

  • American Jurisprudence Legal Forms. Located in the Reference Area at KF170 .A4 1971 (latest received May 2013). This 20 volume set includes forms from A (Abandoned, Lost & Unclaimed Property) to Z (Zoning and Planning). Includes an index. Volumes updated with supplements.
  • West's Legal Forms. Located in the Reference Area at KF170 .W47 (2nd ed. 1981 - . Supplemented through 2009).

Articles

Articles and legal periodicals are available from a number of sources.

UW Restricted databases available to Gallagher Law Library visitors include:

  • LegalTrac: A searchable index of more than 1,500 major law reviews, legal newspapers, specialty publications, and bar association journals (some full text)
  • LexisNexis Academic: More than 1,050 law reviews and journals (full text)
  • HeinOnline: Major law reviews and journals, many from inception (full text PDFs)

No-Cost options include Google Scholar, which searches the scholarly literature, retrieving citations to articles (some full text) from databases including the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and institutional repositories.

  • Google Scholar Search Tips
    • To search a particular website, add site: to the query. Example: "real property" site:leg.wa.gov
    • To search for a word or phrase in a document title, add allintitle: to the query. Example: allintitle:"uniform trust code"

The University of Washington School of Law, Gallagher Law Library digital.law Repository includes access to Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, the Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, the Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts, and Washington Law Review.

Public Records

Carole A. Levitt & Mark E. Rosch, The Cybersleuth's Guide to the Internet: Conducting Effective Free Investigative & Legal Research on the Web (12th ed. 2012). Several chapters of this comprehensive resource cover resources for finding people and property using free and pay research databases. Includes a Table of Contents and an index (520 pages).


Primary Law Sources: Washington State

The Washington State Legislature, Washington Courts, and the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington (MRSC) offer free online access to Washington state laws, regulations, court opinions, city and county codes, and proposed legislation. Note that the information provided on these websites is not considered official, and is not authenticated. See each website's disclaimers for more information.

For additional resources and coverage, consult the companion Gallagher Guide on Washington Laws, Legislation & The Legislature.

Laws

Real property, probate, and trust laws are codified in many titles of the Revised Code of Washington. Starting points include:

Regulations

Real property, probate, and trust regulations are found in the Washington Administrative Code. Starting points include:

Bills & New Legislation

Track bills on real property, probate, and trust issues on the Washington State Legislature website. Search for bills by keyword using LegSearch (LegSearch search tips) or search Bills by Topic. Locate Bills Passed the Legislature in the Legislative Information Center. Find historical bill information from 1991 to 2008 using the Washington State Legislature's Detailed Legislative Reports

Court Decisions

  • Washington Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Decisions
    • Slip Opinions within the last 14 days are available from Washington Courts (PDF)
    • A digital archive of opinions is available from MRSC Court Opinions (formerly LegalWa.org). Search for recent Slip Opinions by docket/case number; all other opinions may be searched full-text
    • Google Scholar: Choose the "Legal Documents" radio button, and select courts. New Slip Opinions appear to be indexed and searchable within a few days of the Court's decision
  • Use the Washington Court's Case Number/Case Name Search index to find cases filed in the municipal, district, superior, and appellate courts

City and County Codes


Useful Websites

Public Records

Washington State Archives

  • Digital Archives: Provides legal and historical digitized records from its collections as well as more recent public records from participating state and local government agencies. Its Current Collections includes certain vital records (birth, death, marriage); property records (land, map, plats and surveys, real property cards); ordinance collections; recorded agreements and contracts, and much more. Coverage varies by collection
  • Common Research Subjects: Provides starting points for researching topics such as Geneaology (for example, vital records) and Property Records

 

In Washington State, county auditors are the sole custodians of records per RCW 65.04.140.

  • MRSC County Resources: Provides county profiles (summary of county information); links to county websites and codes

State Taxes

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