The Law Office of Matthew Kress
Wills & Trusts • Estate Planning • Probate • Trust Administration
Portland Probate Services
Trusted Legal Services in Portland
Probate court is the part of the judicial system that handles wills, estates, guardianships, and other legal matters related to estate planning. The primary purpose of probate court is to ensure that the property and debts of a deceased individual are properly handled and distributed, whether or not a will is present.
Probate court is also used to settle wills that may be contested, especially if the authenticity of the will is being questioned or the mental capacity of the individual that created the will may have been compromised.
When you go through probate court with a will, a judge will determine the validity of the will. Without a will, the purpose of probate court is to allocate the person’s assets to the next of kin. A lengthier court process can be expected if you enter court without a will present.
The Probate Process
Although most everyone attempts to avoid probate, there are some benefits of working through the probate process. It ensures that the debts of the deceased are paid and, because creditors have a finite amount of time to respond to the notice, it cuts off the creditor claims if the creditors do not respond in a timely fashion.
Creditors that are unknown by the end of the process are unable to collect on their debt. This serves an important public purpose of finality and faith that the heir or devisee receiving the property won’t be surprised by a creditor later asserting a claim against that property.
Of course, the process also serves the purpose of distributing a person’s assets according to their will.
If you find yourself overwhelmed about the probate process, continue reading to learn more about what you can expect.
Admission of Will or Court Petition
The first step in the probate court process is to admit the will to the probate court or petition the court if there is no will. A petition is usually filed by a relative or the individual designated in the deceased’s will. Then, a personal representative is determined and appointed. This role is also known as the executor in certain states and is laid out in the will or assigned by the court if there is no will.
Once the court has been petitioned and a representative has been determined, a notice of the estate proceedings is published and any heirs, devisees, or other interested persons are notified.
The next step in the probate process involves asset identification. This will require looking at the debts of the deceased and other financial liabilities.
Additionally, the proper taxes will need to be determined and filed. This is one of the steps in the process where it is most beneficial to have a lawyer. When I work with you through probate court, I ensure taxes are properly paid and fairly managed.
Here is a simplified overview of this step in the probate process:
- Gather Assets and Identify Liabilities/Debts of the Deceased.
- File Tax Returns with IRS, Oregon Department of Revenue and Other Tax Authorities.
- File Accounting with the Court.
File and Distribute Property
Property distribution follows the completion of the court process. The specific distribution of property depends on whether or not sufficient property remains after paying expenses, as well as the claims in the order set forth by court statute.
In some instances, a small estate proceeding may be used, which is a faster process used for small estates. Typically, a small estate proceeding is a simplified procedure that spares families a longer probate process.
To learn more about the probate process or to see how I can help, click the button below to schedule an introductory consultation.
Portland Probate Services
Probate is one of the primary focuses of my practice. Since starting my own law firm in 2012, I have seen countless families and individuals through the process. Although it can be overwhelming, with my experience and education, I see to it that probate court and other meetings are as productive as possible.
Portland families and individuals from all backgrounds have worked with me to get through the probate process. In some instances, probate court can be handled without a lawyer. However, it is my experience that the multitudes of paperwork, provisions, and legal terminology is difficult for a layman to sift through and understand.
Given the circumstances you may be facing, it is important to have the legal support my services provide. You likely have a lot on your plate as you face the death of a loved one and attempt to navigate probate. I believe in educating every client throughout every stage of the process so the path is always clear.
To learn more about my probate services or to get started with an introductory consultation, click the scheduling link below. I look forward to guiding you through probate one step at a time with understanding, professionalism, and care.