What is probate?

Probate refers to the legal process which allows property to pass from a deceased loved (decedent) one to his or her heirs. A good probate attorney should make this procedure efficient and painless while minimizing fees. Visit our Website:

The first step is to gather a list of all the decedent’s assets. The lawyer will need the original will and trust documents, along with the death certificate. Probate may be necessary even if there is not a will. All assets which require an owner’s signature in order to pass title must go through probate. However, there are exceptions to this:Estate planning

•If the asset is in joint names with a right of survivorship (defined below)
•If there is a named beneficiary, such as in a life insurance policy
•If an asset has been noted to be paid to another upon death
•If the assets of an individual have been placed in a trust (more on trusts below)

What is right of survivorship?
Many married couples have their assets in joint names with a right of survivorship. When the first spouse dies, the property passes automatically to the surviving spouse, avoiding probate. When the second spouse dies, probate is necessary unless a trust has been established. The best option is to have the married couple prepare revocable living trusts early on.

What is a revocable living trust?
Probate can be avoided with a revocable living trust. Bear in mind that such a trust does not avoid inheritance taxes, but only avoids going to probate court. Property requiring a signature to transfer ownership that is put in the name of the trust will avoid probate. I can help you decide whether a trust is best suited to your estate plan.

How long does probate take?
The probate procedure usually takes less than a year for a normal estate. There are estates with complications which take longer, but those are rare.

How can probate costs be minimized?
I work with you to find ways to minimize probate costs; for example, I always encourage the personal representative to help as much as he or she can to save on the cost of an attorney.

What if the estate is small?
There is a provision in the Oregon law to administer a “small” estate by way of an affidavit. A small estate is defined as one that is less than $275,000 total, with no more than $200,000 attributable to real property and $75,000 attributable to personal property.

The person named as personal representative in the decedent’s will, or an heir if there is no will, signs an affidavit containing the statutory requirements. This is a relatively simple procedure.

Who pays the decedent’s bills?
Creditors of the decedent may file a document in the probate case to collect what is owed to them. They must look to the assets of the estate for payment. The decedent’s debt is not the responsibility of the heirs, although in certain cases they may wish to be sure the debt is satisfied.

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