Probate Matters

Probate is the court-supervised transfer of property from a deceased person (decedent) to that individual’s heirs and beneficiaries.

If the decedent had a Will, the individual is considered to have died testate, and normally the Will specifies who receives the decedent’s estate. If the decedent did not make a Will, then the individual is considered to have died intestate, and Oregon law identifies the heirs of the estate.

Probate is a complicated court process that typically takes at least six months. I can help you understand and complete the process in a timely, cost effective manner.

The person who handles a probate for a decedent is known as the personal representative (sometimes called executor or executrix). If the decedent died having signed a Will, the document likely nominates one or more people to act as personal representative. If the decedent died without a will, then Oregon law provides priority for certain persons to serve.

I can help identify the proper person to act as personal representative and work with that individual to open a Probate Estate court proceeding by preparing a petition. The petition is filed with the court and reviewed by a Judge before the personal representative is given initial authority to begin to settle the decedent’s affairs.

Once appointed, the personal representative will:

  • Identify and notify interested parties that a Probate has been filed.
  • Consolidate the decedent’s assets and prepare an inventory of the assets for the Court.
  • Identify the creditors of the decedent’s estate and verifying that sufficient assets exist to pay all the creditors.
  • Provide notice to unknown creditors of their right to make a claim against the estate. This notice is usually accomplished by publication of a notice in the local newspaper.
  • Make any specific distributions of the decedent’s property set forth in the will.
  • As needed, the personal representative may seek court authority to sell property owned by the decedent.
  • File final tax returns on behalf of the decedent.
  • Once creditor claims have been paid and taxes filed, the personal representative prepares a final accounting, the estate is closed, and the personal representative is discharged.
  • The personal representative is entitled to be reimbursed for their expenses and compensated for their time.

A personal representative is a fiduciary—that is, they are managing money and assets that do not belong to them. For this reason, the personal representative must be thorough, detail oriented, organized, and must always act impartially towards creditors, heirs and beneficiaries.