Oregon ProbateProbate is perhaps the most common legal process by which a decedent's heirs are identified, debts and taxes are paid or contested and assets are legally transferred to beneficiaries. Probate is not always necessary. Our office advises individuals on whether or not to commence probate and we represent individuals who petition to be appointed as Personal Representative. We also represent beneficiaries of estates who have questions about the probate process and creditors who have claims.
The there are two basic types of probate; Testate (with a will) and Intestate (no will). The affairs of the "Estate" of the decedent are conducted by the Personal Representative whose duties and responsibilities are defined by Oregon law and by the will. Other terms synonymous with "Personal Representative" are "Executor" and "Administrator."
The process starts with the filing of a Petition for Probate. This filing is commonly made by the personal representative nominated in the will or, in the case of an intestate probate, by a close relative of the decedent. The original will must accompany the petition or a reason provided for its absence.
If the court accepts the filing then the personal representative is appointed. Depending on the circumstances, a bond may be required prior to issuance of "Letters" to the personal representative. "Letters" is a document issued by the court which the Personal Representative uses as the evidence of her office.
After the Personal Representative is appointed, notice of the appointment must be given to heirs and those named in the will. However, in most cases the initial appointment of the Personal Representative takes place without formal notice.
In Oregon, once appointed the Personal Representative has the general power to manage the estate and to sell assets without requesting specific authority from the court. In the event of a dispute, the Personal Representative may give notice to interested parties and request specific guidance from the Probate Judge.
As part of the probate process there are certain required filings with the court and notice to creditors must be published. The Personal Representative is required to keep estate assets separate from his own and to account to the Judge and to the benefiaries for all income, expenses and assets. The Personal Representative is responsible for making sure that all the decedent's income taxes have been paid, and to prepare and file any unfiled returns. A probate estate is a taxpayer, and it is also the job of the Personal Representative to take care of required income tax filings for the estate.
The probate process in Oregon generally takes from six months to a year. Complicated probates may take longer.
12275 SW Second Street - Beaverton, OR 97005