Peter F. Cowles

Estate Planning, Personal Injury, Litigation & Transactional Services 

1734 NW MARKET ST, SEATTLE, WA, 98107-5224, US



Peter F. Cowles has been practicing law in the State of Washington since 1992 with his main office in the historic Ballard neighborhood of north Seattle.  Peter graduated Magna Cum Laude from Kean University.  After graduation, he worked in both the public and private sector and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Australia.  He obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Gonzaga University School of Law.  Peter serves as a King County Court appointed Arbitrator and court appointed Settlement Guardian Ad Litem (SGAL). Peter uses a common sense approach to achieve his clients' goals. Peter practices in the area of Estate Planning, Personal Injury, Litigation, and Transactional Services.


This website is for general information only.  If you have questions or need advice, please call 206-789-6655 or 425-882-7900 or email us at  Law Offices of Peter F. Cowles, PS. 1734 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA 98107 (main location & mailing address) and meetings available at: Thinkspace, 8201 - 164th Avenue NE, Suite 200, Redmond, WA 98052. Online meetings available on Zoom.

Personal Injury

Time is of the essence.
Since there are specific time limits for every different type of injury claim, it is critical to discuss your claim with an attorney as soon as possible.  Also, it is important to report claims to an attorney to ensure your claim is properly documented and evidence is not lost.  Our office can help you protect your rights, so please call us now.

Your own insurance company may cover your injuries through PIP (Personal Injury Protection) or UM/UIM (Uninsured/Under Insured Motorist) so it is best to discuss your claim with an attorney to make sure such claims are properly made and to ensure your rights are protected.  Call us to discuss your rights.

Bicyclists - Am I Covered?

If you are injured due to a hit and run, uninsured driver or from a defective road condition, you may still be insured.  If you own a car and have PIP (Personal Injury Protection) or UM/UIM (Uninsured/Under Insured Motorist) it will likely cover your medical bills and possibly other damages (lost income, pain and suffering, inconvenience and other out of pocket costs).

What is a Personal Injury claim?
A personal injury claim arises from any injury caused at least in part by someone other than yourself.  Often, these claims arise from automobile, motorcycle or bicycle collisions.  If you are injured due to due to negligence of another you may be entitled to be compensated for all medical bills, lost wage, property damages and other losses related to the collision.  Call us now to discuss your rights at 206-789-6655 or 425-882-7900.

Estate Planning

What is estate planning?

Estate planning means putting your property to the best possible use for your benefit during your lifetime and for the use of your "beneficiaries" after your death.  Your beneficiaries are the people you want to receive your assets including your home, cash, investments, and other possessions when you die.  In many cases, sound estate planning can reduce the taxes and other costs that must be paid during your lifetime and when you pass on your property.

Is estate planning just for rich people?

No.  Most people can benefit from estate planning.  If you own anything at all, even just the furniture in the home you rent, you should arrange for your property to go to your beneficiaries in the best possible way.

Your "estate" may be worth more than you think.  An estate includes your savings, of course, but also any business you may own, life insurance proceeds, stocks, bonds, profit sharing and pension plans.  Your home, rental property, other real estate, and any valuables such as a car, jewelry, antiques or a coin collection are part of your estate.  Also, any monies you are owed, any patents or copyrights you may own and any royalty agreements you may have are part of your estate.

Estate planning can also include guardianship and trust provisions for your minor children.  If you have minor children, we include simple guardianship and trust provisions in our standard Will at no extra charge.

What is involved in estate planning?

Estate planning is different for everyone,  Among other things, the kind of estate planning you need depends on whether you have a family and its size, the kinds and amounts of property you own and what you want your estate planning to accomplish.

One simple estate planning device is a Will.  Because Washington State is a community property state, another way to pass property between husband and wife is a Community Property Agreement.  Estate planning often means making decisions about the way you "hold title to" or own a house or other real estate, bank accounts, life insurance policies, pension and profit-sharing plans, stocks, bonds, and more.  Estate planning might include setting up one or more trusts. 

Estate planning can also include a Living Will or Directive to Physicians to let your doctors and family know what you want in terms of life support should you become incapacitated due to injury or terminal illness.  It also should include a Durable Power of Attorney in which you name someone to handle your affairs should you become unable to handle them yourself.

Please call to help you design an estate plan which covers all your needs.

Do I need a Will?

Washington state law does not require that you have a Will, but, if you have children, have definite plans on who you want to receive a gift from your estate it is highly advisable that you have a Will. 

What other ways can estate planning help my beneficiaries?

After discussing the particulars of your estate and what you want to accomplish, our office may recommend that you change the way you own or hold title to some of your property such as life insurance policies, real estate and other possessions.  The ways you hold title to property can affect your total estate plan, including the need for probate and the taxes that must be paid during your lifetime and on your death. 


Our office has flat rate fees for simple documents.  If your estate requires more time than our flat fees allow for, we would charge based on the time it takes to fully discuss your estate and then produce the appropriate documents. 

Additional Resources

• Learn about probate and trust law in Washington
• Find out what to do when a loved one passes away


What is probate?

Probate is the legal process through which property and other assets pass from you to your beneficiaries after you die.  If you do not have a Will, an intestate probate would be initiated by one of your heirs.  If you do have a Will, a testate probate would be initiated by the person identified in your Will as your personal representative or Executor/Executrix.

Probate proceedings are intended to provide a mechanism for the orderly transfer of a decedent's property while protecting those who might have an interest in the property, including heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, and taxing authorities.  The probate process is necessary to: collect and protect the decedent's property; identify the beneficiaries, estate creditors, and any other individuals or entities that may be entitled to assets of the estate or have claims against the estate; pay all debts, expenses, valid claims, and taxes; and, to distribute the property of the estate properly.

Is probate necessary?

Probate proceedings are not necessary for all estates. Various factors, including the value, nature, and titling of assets, will determine whether or not probate is required and what type of probate proceeding is necessary.

An individual in possession of a decedent's will must either file the Will with the appropriate court or deliver the Will to the decedent's personal representative or attorney within 30 days of being notified of the death.

How long does the probate process take?

In the State of Washington, a probate takes a minimum of four months from the date of publication of the Notice to Creditors before an estate can be closed.  This is the time required by law to allow any possible creditors to make claims to the estate.  Once the four months has passed, if there are no other pending issues, an estate can be distributed to the heirs and the court file closed.


Estates may be subject to federal and state taxes on income and the estate, depending on the type and value of assets includible in the decedent's "gross estate." The gross estate generally includes both probate and non-probate assets; many people don't realize that avoiding probate will not affect whether or not income or estate taxes will be due.

Fees and Costs

Probate costs can vary substantially depending on factors such as the type of assets, claims by creditors, and the need to file tax returns.  Also, the personal representative and the estate's lawyer or other service providers are entitled to reasonable compensation for their services. 

Revocable living trusts

May provide an alternative to probate.  Any transfer outside of probate should be used cautiously since the mere transfer of ownership into joint names may cause gift-tax consequences or there may be estate tax complications upon the death of one of the owners.

Unclaimed Property

Unclaimed Property can be found through the following Washington State website:

Helpful links:

Washington State Law on Probate & Trust (RCW Title 11)

Washington State Attorney General's dealing with death page

Layne Staley

Layne Staley was an American grunge rock icon. Layne was internationally known as the Founder, Frontman, Lead Singer and Co-Songwriter of the grunge rock band Alice in Chains.  In April 2017 Rolling Stone wrote "Staley was a massively talented and charismatic singer, one whose intense performances are still capable of raising the hairs on the back of your neck". Layne wrote the lyrics for the band's best known and most licensed song Man In the Box.  Layne was also the lead singer and songwriter of the rock band supergroup Mad Season which included Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, John Baker Saunders of the Walkabouts and Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees. In addition to Layne’s iconic musical talents, he was a visual artist. He created the cover art for the Mad Season album Above, and created numerous other visual art works. He also designed and created jewelry and clothing.  For Licensing information for Layne Staley: his music; copyrights; name; likeness; voice; images; and art, please call Peter Cowles at 206-789-6655.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan proclaimed August 22, 2019 (Layne’s birthday) as "Layne Staley Day" in Seattle.  The yearly tribute for Layne’s fans starts that day.  Tribute information, events and Mayor Durkan's proclamation can be found

Rolling Stone, Variety and other music news sources reported the sale of Layne Staley's music catalogue to Primary Wave Music.  The sale closed at the end of 2021.  After working on the sale for over a year, our client, Layne's mom, was very pleased with the result; our firm helped her nearly double the initial offers.  Working with Primary Wave Music - The Home of Legends - will help ensure Layne's legacy for many years to come.

In addition to the sale of Layne Staley's catalog sale in 2021, in 2022 our firm assisted the estate of Motown co-writer of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees: The Jackson 5 on: ABC and I Want You Back; and, Diana Ross and the Supreme's hit Love Child, among other Motown greats. We've worked with numerous  other music catalog rights owners to ensure those rights are maximized and protected.

Music Rights and Music Catalog Sales

We have over twenty years of attorney experience with music rights. Our clients have been satisfied that we found them the best buyer or administrator for their music.  In the process, we help our clients understand all aspects of their music rights. With the right administrator they pull together all income sources under one roof and seek synch deals increasing revenue and composition value.  Clients include: writers, performers, composers, and producers.  We've been pleased to represent musicians, songwriters and producers from a variety of genre’s including: surf rock, grunge, Motown and more. Notably we have represented the estates of Layne Staley and Mike Starr, both of Alice in Chains, Don Wilson of The Ventures, and, Deke Richards of Motown's the Clan and the Corporation. Deke Richard wrote for The Jackson 5, Diana Ross, Bobby Darin, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.  Feel free to call with your questions.