Breaking down probate statistics in Deschutes County, Oregon for 2018

Probate is the name for the legal process required to distribute your estate – your property – after you die. The appointed estate executor (called a personal representative in Oregon), and your probate attorney will manage this process for you, and the personal representative may get paid a fee for doing so. Probate proceedings take a lot of time, often leading to family squabbles over money, and can cost quite a lot as well. In most cases, your property is not distributed to your beneficiaries until the end of the probate process.

The Deschutes County Circuit Court closed 176 probate cases in 2018. These cases, opened between 1995 and 2018, vary in the amount of assets and the number of days required to close the cases.

The following analysis excludes cases opened for wrongful death claims, insolvent estates (more debts than assets left over), or estates with no assets opened for some other limited purpose. We also removed one case initially opened in 1995 as it substantially increased the average time for all cases closed in 2018. That left us with 152 regular probate cases, with the following averages:

10 of these 152 cases had assets in excess of $1 million, while the other 142 were under $1 million. Here are some interesting points about those cases:

 

Under $1 Million in Assets

Over $1 Million in Assets

87 did not take a personal representative fee (56 did)

39 understated actual costs *

25 list no costs at all *

10 list no attorney fees (they were paid outside of the probate proceeding and were not disclosed to the Court) *

6 did not take a personal representative fee (4 did)

3 understated actual costs *

2 list no costs at all *

* Many cases understated their actual costs and several cases did not list any costs or attorney fees, making the average costs and attorney fees less than the actual amounts paid.

As you can see, larger estates typically require more time to close, and cost significantly more due to the complexity of those cases.

The Average Costs of Deschutes County Probate

The actual costs for any probate case vary, but every case requires fees for filing, publication, accounting, and judgment. Excluding the costs for a personal representative and/or attorney, the fees above total about $1,920 in Deschutes County for cases under $1 million.

If the estate is valued between $1 and $10 million, those same fees aren’t increased by much: $2,504.

The Probate Statistics graphic above also includes 10 cases which list no attorney fees. If we remove those cases from our calculations, a realistic cost approximation for cases under $1 million would be $7,069. This isn’t much different from the cases where personal representatives took a fee: $6,978.

The average personal representative fee for cases valued in excess of $1 million was $32,154, while the average attorney fee was $28,179.

We also took the liberty of calculating overall averages for Deschutes County.

 

Estate ValueCourt and Publication CostsPersonal Representative FeeAttorney fee

Total

Less than $1 Million$1,920$6,978$7,069$15,967
More than $1 Million$2,504$32,154$28,179$62,837

Once again, individual probate costs vary from case to case, depending on whether the personal representative takes a fee, and the actual attorney fees. If the case takes longer than a year to resolve, multiple accountings are required, resulting in additional fees.

If there is a significant amount of outstanding debt, there are contested claims on the estate, or challenges brought against the estate by beneficiaries, this will also increase the cost of these proceedings.

There are ways to decrease or eliminate the need to probate your estate, but you have to know how to do it and separate fiction from fact. One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you have a will, your estate does not have to go through probate. This is absolutely incorrect – your will is an entry ticket to the probate process. Do yourself and your family a favor by planning your estate correctly, including if possible, keeping your estate all or mostly out of probate.

De Alicante Law Group is an estate planning and business law firm based in Bend, Oregon, with an additional location in Tigard. Founded in early 2013 by Oregon native and veteran, Tony De Alicante, De Alicante Law Group is proud to serve people from across the state of Oregon. The firm is presenting a series of free seminars throughout Central Oregon during November to teach the basics of estate planning. Sign up, or just show up, to attend any of the following seminars on Estate Planning 101:

Central Oregon

Date: November 18, 2019
Time: 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Location: Bend Public Library, Brooks Room
601 NW Wall Street, Bend, Oregon 97701 (Google Maps)

Date: November 19, 2019
Time: 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Location: La Pine Library Meeting Room
16425 1st Street, La Pine, OR 97739 (Google Maps)

Date: November 19, 2019
Time: 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Location: Redmond Library Meeting Room
827 SW Deschutes Ave, Redmond, OR 97756 (Google Maps)

Date: November 20, 2019
Time: 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Location: Sisters Library Meeting Room
110 N. Cedar Street, Sisters, Oregon 97759 (Google Maps)

Date: November 21, 2019
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: Sunriver Public Library
56855 Venture Lane, Sunriver, OR 97707 (Google Maps)

Date: November 21, 2019
Time: 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Location: Jefferson County Library, Rodriguez Annex (Upstairs)
134 SE E. Street, Madras, Oregon 97741 (Google Maps)

Date: November 22, 2019
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: Crook County Library Broughton Room
175 NW Meadow Lakes Drive, Prineville, OR 97754 (Google Maps)