You may be wondering how long the probate process takes and what can be accomplished during probate.
SOME IMPORTANT DEFINITIONS:
Probate is the legal process whereby assets owned by a deceased person pass to the living beneficiaries. An estate with a Will is called a testate estate. The beneficiaries of a testate estate are the individuals or charities named in the Will. An estate without a Will is called an intestate estate. The beneficiaries of an intestate estate are the deceased person’s heirs (their closest living relatives according to Oregon statute).
The probate process begins when a person is appointed by the probate court to be in charge of the estate. The person in charge of a testate estate is called a “Personal Representative”. The person in charge of an intestate estate is called a “Administrator”.
After the Personal Representative or Administrator is appointed he or she must arrange for certain legal notices. One notice called “Information to Heirs, Devisees, and other Interested Persons” must be mailed by the Personal Representative. The other notice called “Publication Notice” must be published in a local newspaper in general circulation in the County where the probate proceeding is occurring.
The probate assets can only be distributed to the beneficiaries after a judge signs an order approving the distribution. A judge will not approve distribution until at least four months have passed since the two notices have been made. This is because during those four months people and businesses have the right to contest the validity of the Will or file a monetary claim against the estate.
While the beneficiaries cannot receive their inheritance during these four months the person in charge of the estate can do many things such as sell real estate, pay the debts of the deceased person, and file the deceased person’s taxes.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP:
Most people choose to hire an attorney to assist them with probate because there are multiple documents which must be filed with the court by certain deadlines. In addition, some Oregon county courts actually require a person to prove a certain competence if they are attempting to probate an estate without the assistance of an attorney. If you have questions regarding probating a loved one’s estate, our firm has over 50 years of experience in assisting clients throughout Portland with a wide variety of probate & estate planning matters. Please call or contact our firm today for your free 30 minute consultation.