Probate is the legal process following a death that determines the distribution of one’s estate for assets that are held in that person’s name. Even if there is a will in place, the estate still must go through probate, but it can make the process simpler.

Probate laws are state-specific, so every state will have varying laws and regulations regarding how the probate process takes place, what is subject to probate, etc.

Is Probate Required in Oregon?

Probate is required for most estates in Oregon, and the type of probate process depends largely on the value of the assets that are in your name when you pass away. If a will exists, the original will has to be filed with the probate court. If you don’t have a will, your estate is considered “intestate” and the laws of the State of Oregon will determine who receives your property and how much of it. Probate requires filing a petition to the court to open the proceeding, paying a filing fee, giving notices to heirs and a couple of State of Oregon offices, filing an inventory of assets of the estate, paying to publish a notice to creditors in the newspaper, answering to creditor claims, and asking for the court’s permission to distribute the estate’s assets.

Small Estate Probate in Oregon

Small estate probate is a more simplified process that does not require as much time, effort, and resources as a regular probate proceeding does. However, the estate must not exceed a fair market value of over $200,000 of real property, or more than $75,000 of personal property.

How Do You Avoid Probate?

There are ways to avoid probate with some or all of your assets. While trusts are an excellent probate avoidance tool, there are other ways, discussed below, to avoid probate with specific assets you may own without having to do a trust.

Annuities

When it comes to annuities, you may be able to avoid probate by naming your spouse or children as beneficiaries. Typically annuities pass through beneficiary designations. If you do not make a beneficiary designation with your annuity, however, your annuity will have to go through the probate process.

Vehicles

There are three different ways to go about avoiding probate when it comes to vehicles.

  1. You can hold title with another person of your choosing as a joint tenant with the right of survivorship.
  2. You can sign the back of the title WITHOUT dating it. Then the person who is acquiring the vehicle can date it and take it to the DMV to transfer the title.
  3. You can use a DMV affidavit if it is the only item outside of probate. Every heir must agree on who will receive the vehicle and sign the affidavit. However, if every heir does not agree, then this method will not work.

Real Property

You may avoid probate with real property by holding it in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship (JTWROS). Depending on the state where the real property is located, you may be able to file a Transfer on Death Deed as well (Oregon allows Transfer on Death Deeds). This will allow you to transfer the property without needing to go through probate. However, after the property is transferred using a transfer on death deed, the beneficiary of the property cannot sell it for 18 months.

Bank Accounts

Similar to other properties, you can hold your bank accounts as JTWROS with your spouse or another person of your choice. If you decide to take this route, keep in mind that the joint owner will receive the entire balance in your account when you pass away or can remove the entire balance during your lifetime.

This means that the joint owner will decide how the balance will be spent or distributed, despite what your intentions are. They are under no obligation to honor a “side” agreement where they are supposed to disperse some or all of the funds to another person.

You can also use a Payable on Death or Transfer on Death designation with your bank account in order to designate who receives your account upon your death. This is done on the signature card of your bank account and will allow you to designate alternates should your first choice pass away before you.

The last way to avoid probate when it comes to your bank accounts includes filing an Affidavit of Heirship. This is a law in Oregon where a beneficiary may collect on deposit accounts of $25,000 or less without a probate proceeding.

Life Insurance

You should complete beneficiary designations for each life insurance policy that you have. A properly designated beneficiary will receive your life insurance without a probate proceeding. You contact your insurance provider to fill out the proper beneficiary forms.

IRAs and 401ks

You can create rollover IRAs and 401k to name your spouse or other persons as a beneficiary of your accounts. You may also add secondary beneficiaries and determine the percentages of the account distributed to each.

How Long is The Probate Process in Oregon?

The length of the probate process is different for each estate. It depends on the size of the estate (how many assets, their values, debts, etc) and if someone disputes a decision.

The average time the probate process takes in Deschutes County is about 18 months.

How Much Does Probate Cost?

Like the length of the process, the cost of going through probate varies greatly. It depends on the value of the estate, court filing fees, creditor claims, and attorney fees.

While a person may go through the process without an attorney, this may end up being even more expensive and time-consuming. Retaining an attorney may seem costly upfront, but they are experts whose work can save you time, money, and allow you to deal with the emotional toll of losing a loved one.

De Alicante Law Group Offers Quality Solutions to See you Through the Probate Process

Probate is a very common and necessary process for many estates in the state of Oregon.

However, by having the best representation available, it can be less painful and move a lot faster. De Alicante Law Group can easily facilitate probate for you and your family, so you can spend more time on other things. Contact us today for a free personalized consultation.