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Overview of the Washington Court System

Washington residents must deal with a wide variety of legal issues on a daily basis. For those who need to navigate the legal system, it's important to understand that the state's courts are divided into four different tiers.

Small claims, some civil actions, traffic infractions, misdemeanor traffic cases and domestic violence restraining order cases are handled in the municipal and district courts, which are considered courts of limited jurisdiction. These courts are located in many towns and cities throughout the state. Serious criminal issues, felony traffic violations, juvenile cases and some civil issues are handled in the superior courts, of which each county has at least one. The three Courts of Appeals, which are located in Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane, respectively, handle the majority of appeals from lower courts. The Washington Supreme Court has ultimate jurisdiction over all cases in the state.

Washington Attorneys and Lawyers

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always the best bet. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated Washington attorney by location and by practice area. We have Washington attorneys who dedicate their practice to specific areas of the law, so you will not only find an attorney, but an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you with your particular legal issue.

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Washington Legal Forms

LawInfo offers free Washington legal forms and documents to help resolve many of your issues on your own. Whether you need a power of attorney or you want to complete your will, we have you covered. You can click on our most popular forms located in the right column of this page. A user account is required to use the service, but it’s completely free.

Investing in rental property is a great way to earn extra income and build savings for the future. If you plan on renting your Washington home, condo or apartment, download LawInfo's free Residential Lease Agreement form. This form prompts you to collect all the information you need in order to craft a legally binding lease agreement, and it is designed to protect your investment, shield you from liability and ensure that you have recourse if a tenant doesn't pay you or damages your property.

Many Washington residents diligently manage their assets so that they'll have something to leave to loved ones when they pass on. Use LawInfo's Last Will and Testament form if you have possessions and assets that you'd like to leave to your family and friends. If you die without a will in Washington, you're said to have died intestate, and all of your possessions will be at the mercy of the probate court. Creating a will is the only way to ensure that your assets will be divided according to your wishes.

In addition to crafting a will, consider downloading LawInfo's Power of Attorney to designate someone who can act on your behalf should you become unable to do so for yourself. You can fill out this document for free so that you'll be well taken care of as you age. Remember that if you fail to designate Power of Attorney, the state may do so for you.

Starting a Washington Business

Starting a new business in Washington is one of the most exciting things an entrepreneur can do. You can find a wealth of free information about starting a business on Access Washington, including links to licensing bodies in the state.

Before you can get your new business off the ground, you'll need to craft a business plan that you can show to investors and state officials. Choosing the right business structure is the next step in creating a successful enterprise. You may wish to operate as a sole proprietor, meaning that you won't have to file incorporation papers with the state but will shoulder personal liability for business problems. You can also choose to incorporate, meaning that you'll pay to file a set of papers but will be shielded from personal liability for business problems.

Washington Business Statistics

Small businesses have long played a central role in Washington's economy. The state is home to more than 546,000 small businesses that employ nearly 54 percent of the private-sector labor force. Women in particular are making gains in terms of self-employment and small business ownership in the state.

While small businesses provide essential revenue for the economy, Washington also attracts many large companies and is home to eight Fortune 500 Top 100 companies. The state's most well-known companies include Costco (COST.O), Starbucks (SBUX.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O).