What, exactly, is probate?The term “probate” refers to a variety of legal procedures which involve the transfer of a person’s assets after death and the conclusion of the deceased person’s affairs. The cost, length, and complexity of the available probate procedures vary widely.
1. Did the decedent die with or without leaving a valid written will? When a decedent leaves a valid written will in Oregon, he is said to have “died testate.” In these cases, the terms of the will dictate the distribution of estate assets to individuals or entities named in the will as beneficiaries.
When a person dies without a valid written will in Oregon, he is said to have “died intestate.” The distribution of assets from an intestate estate to surviving family members (known as “heirs) is governed by the Oregon Probate Statutes. The complexity of probating an estate varies from case to case. Sometimes the probate process is simple and the involvement of your attorney will be minimal.
in these instances a lawyer will file an Petition to Probate the Will and Appoint a Personal Representative. The Petiton will be filed with the Court and a Personal Representative will be appointed. Notice of the Appointment will go out to the Beneficiaries and Heirs. The Beneficiaries and Heirs will have 20 days to file an objection to the appointment of a Personal Representative.
Other times the probate process can be quite complicated. For instance, what if a decedent left a valid written will that was lost or destroyed? What if there are ambiguities in the will with regards to the identity of the beneficiaries or the assets being distributed? What if, in an heirship proceeding, a long lost relative comes out of the woodworks and claims a share of the estate? These questions require an experienced Oregon Probate Lawyer.
2. Does the decedent’s estate require administration? Regardless of whether a person died with or without leaving a will, the second question that a probate attorney will want to know is whether or not there is a need for estate administration.
Estate administration may be required when:the estate owes money to creditors, beneficiaries or heirs cannot get along with one anotherthe estate must pursue a legal claim against a person or business estate property must be partitioned Generally, estate administration involves three steps:
(1) Gathering the estate assets,
(2) Ascertaining if the estate owed any debts, and
(3) Distributing the remaining assets pursuant to the terms of the will or as outlined in the Oregon Probate Statutes.
The difficulty of these tasks varies significantly based on the size of the estate and the family dynamics of the beneficiaries or heirs.
There are two types of probate in Oregon:
(1) Small Estates: Small Estate has real property that does not exceed $200,000 and personal property no greater than $75,000.
(2) Probate: Any estate greater in value than $275,000 or an estate that has special problems such as lost heirs, fighting siblings, creditor problems, or a business owned by the deceased.
Probate can be quick and efficient and also very complex. The Law Office of Joseph K. Phillips has over 22 years in doing Probate and Small Estates. Please call my office for a consultation, so that you can make the correct decisions for you loved ones. (541) 258-7301.
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