Probate: What is it?

Probate is the legal process by which a court oversees the a person’s assets and the payment of any debts after that person has passed away. Attorneys are vital to prepare the paperwork for filing in the court system. Often, the need to sell the real property owned by the person who passed away will drive a family to hire an attorney to handle the court process. The real estate is taken through the probate process so that clean title can be given to the buyer of the real estate.

Who is the decision maker in a probate?

If a loved one left a Last Will and Testament, this document will name someone as the executor or personal representative. This person does not have to serve if he or she doesn’t want this responsibility. Often, the Will may mention several alternatives if the first person named as the executor doesn’t want to serve. The court has to act before this person has any authority to make decisions.

If a loved one didn’t leave a Last Will and Testament, then state statutes will assist with the appointment of a person who can act as the decision maker. Generally, the surviving spouse or the children of the person who passed away are the most likely people to serve as the executor or personal representative.

How do I get started on the probate process?

The most straightforward way to get started on the probate process is to hire an attorney to prepare the paperwork to file in the court system. This is not a good area of the law to attempt a do-it-yourself process. There are bonding requirements and simplified probate processes that you may not be aware of.

How do I prepare to meet with an attorney for a probate?

Please request a copy of the death certificate and prepare a list of assets or debts. It also saves us time if you can locate the original will.

What if I can’t find the original will but I have a copy?

Copies of wills can be filed in the court system but the judge needs an explanation of the situation and the family may need to sign a consent for copies of the will to be used instead of the original.


9600 SW Barnes Road, Suite 125
Portland, OR 97225
Phone: (503) 719-6603