My father passed away last December after a battle with skin cancer and COPD. He was not a financially wealthy man. He was rich with love from his daughters, grandchildren, family and friends. I'm not sure if he was being optimistic or was in denial about his health, he never created a will despite his failing health.
A few weeks after we buried Dad, I went to his bank to see what I was suppose to do. At the very least, I wanted them to know that he was no longer living and to close the account to prevent any charges or activity that should no longer be happening. The person who "helped" me wouldn't even speak to me without a will. In fact, he hinted that if I opened an account, it might be easier to assist me. I was so upset and emotional that I stormed out. I was looking for guidance and received nothing…silly me.
If you don't create a will, then the State of Washington has specific laws as to what will happen with any real or personl property and who will be the beneficiary of the estate. This is referred to as "intestate". Dad's "estate" is probably is not enough to hire an attorney over. If there's anything to help reimburse the cost of his burial, we'll be pleasantly surprised.
By the way, this site has been the most helpful that I've found so far with trying to figure out what to do: This site has been probably the most helpful that I've found so far regarding Dad's estate: http://www.wa-probate.com/
If you're drafting or updating your will, you may want to consider an estate planner or attorney who specializes in this matter to help you determine if you need a trust and to avoid possible death taxes.
Please take time to create a will for you and your loved ones. Make sure your wishes are honored and let someone know where your will is. If you have a will, when was the last time you updated it? Please don't leave this matter up to Washington State laws. If my Dad would have had a will, I believe this issue would have been easily resolved by now.