What is a Probate?

After the passing of a loved one, you may find yourself overwhelmed by grief and how to handle their affairs. The estate process does not need to be this way; there are local legal professionals who are here to explain the process and assist you step-by-step to ultimately settle the affairs of your loved one.  

Our office finds many families simply confused by the language used in the estate administration process. Here, we cover probates – what is it? How does it function in the estate process? What should you and your family be prepared for?   

What is a Probate : The Basics  

A probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are transferred from their name to the name of the beneficiary who is now the owner. This legal process occurs whether a valid will exists or not. When there is a valid will in place, that will acts as a set of guiding instructions for a personal representative, sometimes known as the executor of the estate, and a court in the administration of the estate. If there is no valid will in place, Oregon law provides how assets will be distributed.   

Role of a Probate 

Assets that require a title to be transferred require a probate. This includes any real property, such as land and real estate, and financial assets, such as bank accounts and stocks. This allows creditors an opportunity to be paid and legal disputes to be settled before any assets are distributed.  

Personal representatives are named in a valid will. When there is no will, a probate begins when someone petitions the court to be named the personal representative. Beneficiaries are told that someone has petitioned for the role. Notice is also published to allow creditors to submit claims against the estate.      

Role of a Personal Representative 

First, the executor identifies all assets in the estate and files an inventory of these items and their approximate value with the court. Items to be sold are sold, debts are paid, and tax returns are filed. The representative also prepares a detailed accounting of the estate, which lays out all that’s occurred in the administration of the estate. After being filed with the court, this accounting is also given to the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate. When this accounting is approved by the court, assets can finally be distributed. The representative is entitled to a fee, based on a small percentage of the value of the estate, for this work.  

While probate lasts a minimum of four months, this process can last years depending on the assets of the estate and any issues that arise along the way. Each situation is unique. Consulting an attorney knowledgeable in estate planning and administration can aid the process. For more information, please call our office at (541) 963-3104 or contact us online at baumsmith.com.   

The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Every matter is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation