REGULAR PROBATE PROCEEDINGS IN OREGON
The regular probate process starts by filing a legal document called a “Petition” with the Court, along with a filing fee. The Petition must be filed in the county where you lived at the time of your death, or where most of your assets are located. If you have a Will, your Will must be delivered to the Court with the Petition, along with sworn affidavits from the witnesses who watched you sign the Will.
The Petition will include a request to appoint a person (or people) as your personal representative, formerly called your executor. The Court must approve the person to act as your personal representative. If your Will nominated a particular person to act as your personal representative, that person is given preference to serve as personal representative. If none of the people nominated by your Will are able to serve, the Court will appoint a close family member or friend to act as personal representative. If no family or friends are able to serve, the Court can appoint a lawyer, a professional fiduciary, or a financial institution to act as your personal representative. Unless the requirement is waived by your Will or the Court, the personal representative must post a bond to the Court.
Once appointed by the Court, your personal representative is responsible for identifying all of your assets and establishing the value of those assets on the date of your death. A listing of those assets, called an “inventory,” must be filed with the Court. Your personal representative must also identify all of your creditors.
Your personal representative is required to provide public notice of the probate proceeding. Copies of the probate paperwork must be delivered to your known heirs and creditors and a notice to your creditors is published in the local newspaper.
The personal representative is responsible for paying your debts and final expenses. They must also prepare your state and federal tax returns and any inheritance, gift or estate tax returns (usually with the assistance of an accountant) and paying any taxes due.
Later in the process, the personal representative must file an accounting with the Court. The accounting shows all of your assets and debts and all expenses paid by the estate. The Court must approve the accounting. Once the accounting is approved, the personal representative is authorized to distribute your remaining assets according to the terms of your Will or, if you did not leave a Will, according to Oregon’s rules regarding intestate succession.
The regular probate process usually lasts six to twelve months. In complicated cases, the process could last several years.