Probate is a public court proceeding that will take at least six months, but sometimes it goes on for years. Probate lets everyone know how much in assets you have in your estate and who it’s going to. It requires payment of court filing fees, newspaper notices to the public, and attorney fees. Probate usually costs much more than it costs to have a Will or Trust prepared. If you pass away without a Will, your Estate will almost always go through Probate.
There are at least two good features of Probate:
- It allows the estate to cut off the claims of creditors four months after notice is published in a newspaper of general circulation if the creditor has not filed a claim against the estate by then; and
- It passes title through the court for any titled property.
The downsides of probate are:
- It’s lengthy
- It’s expensive
- It’s complicated
- It makes your estate public
The probate process starts after a person dies leaving behind property. When this happens, Oregon Revised Statutes § 113.035 states that any interested party can bring a copy of the will to the probate court in the county where the decedent lived or owned property. The court will then accept the will, or hold a hearing to determine its validity, and then name a person to distribute the estate property. This person can either be named in the will or chosen by the court, and is alternately called the executor or personal representative. Once the executor is named, he must account for all estate assets and liabilities, pay debts with estate property and then distribute remaining property in accordance either with the terms of the will or the laws of intestate succession.