Some Oregonians view Probate with dread and they try to avoid it at all costs. They will spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and many, many hours planning how to avoid it. In truth, there are few legal proceedings as cost-effective as the Probate process.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process that transfers the assets of a deceased person to living persons. Probate is usually handled by the court in the county where the deceased resided at the time of death.
When is probate needed?
Probate is not needed if the deceased only owns bank accounts & property jointly with a living person. Therefore, a married couple who own all their assets jointly will not need a probate proceeding when the first spouse passes away. Probate is necessary to transfer the deceased’s property when any kind of valuable property is held in his or her sole name. If a person passes away leaving just a few personal belongings & household goods, these can be distributed without a probate proceeding. Therefore, a married couple who own all their assets jointly will not need a probate proceeding when the first spouse passes away.
How long does probate take?
Probate can be, and should be, started immediately after death. If the deceased had a will, the person named as "personal representative" is obligated to start the probate process. If the deceased died without a will, a close relative should start the process. An experienced attorney can finalize a simple probate in five to nine months. If property must be sold during probate, or there are complicated tax matters, probate can take a little longer. Few probates take longer than a year. If funds are needed by a beneficiary the court can make a partial distribution of probate funds or property before the end of the probate process. The Oregon statutes have an expedited process for small estates that takes just over four months.
What is a “small estate" proceeding?
A small estate proceeding applies if the deceased owns total assets valued at $275,000 or less. To remain under this figure the real property cannot be valued at more than $200,000 and the personal property cannot be valued at more than $75,000. Personal property includes everything that is not real property.
Do I need an attorney to help me with my relative’s probate?
Probate in Oregon is not complicated (unless the assets and debts are complex) but involves a good deal of paperwork that must be filed in a timely manner. To prepare the proper documents at the right time, and to ensure that all property is properly transferred, you need a probate attorney.