and Probate Law Firm
Probate: From Beginning to End
Probate is a court process in which an individual’s assets are passed to their beneficiaries upon that individual’s passing. Probate can take anywhere from six months to two years in Oregon. If the decedent died with a will or without any estate planning, then probate will be necessary. This article will explain, in depth, probate and working with a Portland probate attorney.
Step 1: Selecting and Meeting with a Probate Attorney
Clients will generally do online research when finding the best attorney for them. This will be based on online reviews, the attorney’s website and the feel the client gets when speaking with the attorney. More on that here.
After selecting the attorney, the client will meet with them to go over some details. This will include whether or not the decedent passed away without a will, whether a death certificate is available and what assets were in the decedent’s estate.
Step 2: Filing the Initial Court Documents.
To begin the probate process, the attorney will file a couple of documents that are required to “kick off” the probate. The first document is the “Petition”, which familiarizes the court with the decedent’s estate, including heirs, the decedent’s date of death and whether or not the decedent died with a properly executed will.
Along with the Petition, we also file a “Limited Judgment” for appointing the personal representative for the estate. In the State of Oregon, the executor of the estate is known as the “personal representative” of the estate. The personal representative is generally the person specified in the will or a close family member.
Lastly, please note that if the decedent died without a will, the court will generally require the personal representative to post a bond. This is essentially an insurance policy so that the personal representative faithfully executes their duties.
Step 3: The Personal Representative Undertakes Responsibilities
After the personal representative is named by the court, they must then begin compiling all of the decedent’s information. This includes going through estate documents including mail, bills and any other important documentation. The personal representative must also begin to prepare an inventory of the estate for the attorney to file with the court.
Step 4: Notification
The Oregon laws relating to probate can be found in Chapter 113 of the Oregon Revised Statutes. Within these statutes, there are very specific guidelines as to who must be notified of the probate proceedings. Some individuals that need to be notified of the probate are the decedent’s heirs, the Oregon Department of Human Services and also potential creditors. The requirement to inform potential creditors is satisfied via publishing notice in a newspaper of general circulation.
After providing the required notice, we must then wait four months for any potential creditors or other interested parties to bring claims against the estate.
Step 5: Satisfaction of Claims
During the aforementioned four-month period, if any potential creditor brings a claim, those claims must be satisfied. The attorney must evaluate whether those claims are valid and, if so, they must satisfy those claims and file proof thereof with the court.
Step 6: Closing Out the Estate
After all creditors are paid, the attorney will then seek to pay all other beneficiaries of the estate. This includes individuals named under the will or the heirs of the decedent if they died without a will. During this process, the attorney will also file a “Final Accounting” with the court to apprise it of the estate’s account. If the court approves the final accounting, including all disbursements made by the personal representative, the court will then order a “General Judgment of Final Distribution.” This allows the beneficiaries to receive estate proceeds. After this process is completed, the attorney will file a “Supplemental Judgment” discharging the personal representative and closing the estate.
Probate in Oregon requires the aforementioned steps, however these steps can vary widely in complexity depending on the estate. If you are seeking the expertise of an experienced Portland probate lawyer, please don’t hesitate to call us or send us a message.
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