Written by attorney Diane L Gruber

Probate in Oregon -- Part 1

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.

What are the costs of probate?

The Court filing fee is based on the value of the deceased’s assets. A Small Estate is $105. For regular probates, the Court charges $240 for an estate under $50,000, $505 for an estate valued between $50,000 & 1 million, $755 for an estate valued between 1 million & 10 million, and $1005 for an estate valued above 10 million. An attorney will charge by the hour and the court must approve the fees before the attorney is paid.

What happens to my assets if I die without a will?

The assets that you own in your sole name will be distributed via Oregon statutes. How your estate is distributed depends upon your marital status and the status of your blood relatives. Here are a few examples. If you are single and have children, each child will receive equal shares of your entire probate estate. If you are married, with or without joint children your spouse will receive your entire estate. If you are married, but your children are from another marriage, your spouse receives one-half of your estate and your children receive one-half. If you die single, leaving no children or grandchildren, your surviving parent(s) will receive your entire estate. If your parents and grandparents are already deceased, and you are unmarried, your brothers and sisters will each receive equal shares of your estate. Statutory distribution does not take into account whether or not you ever MET the relatives that will inherit. Indeed, your least favorite relative could wind up with all or part of your estate. Only by signing a will can you be assured that people you love will receive your assets.

Additional resources provided by the author

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer