After a person dies, the estate may go into probate. Probate is a legal process in which a court oversees the payment of any debt and the distribution of the estate, according to the terms of the will, if there is one. Although probate is not always required, it is common. In Oregon, probate may be necessary in the following six situations.

1. Titled property is involved.

Before real estate can be transferred after the death of the owner, probate will often be required. The same is commonly true for vehicles owned solely by the deceased, as well as other types of titled property, such as stocks and bonds.

Although probate can sometimes be avoided, probate is often necessary to transfer the titled property to the beneficiary.

2. There’s no joint ownership.

One way to avoid probate is to have joint ownership of titled property. As long as one of the joint owners survives, probate will not typically be necessary. However, if there is only one owner, or if both of the joint owners die, probate may be required.

3. There’s no living trust or transfer-on-death deed.

There’s much more to estate planning than the creation of a will. With the right documents, such as a living trust or a transfer-on-death deed, probate may be avoidable in Oregon.

4. Debts need to be collected.

The estate may owe debt, but the reverse can also be true, and debts may be owed to the estate. To collect these debts, probate may be required.

5. The estate is large.

Full probate may be avoided when handling small estates. Under Oregon law, a small estate affidavit can be filed if the estate has no more than $75,000 in personal property and no more that $200,000 in real property. These limits may be subject to change.

A larger estate may require probate.

6. There are disputes.

In an ideal world, the will would be perfectly clear, all heirs would accept it, and distribution of the estate would be straightforward. The real world, however, is not always so ideal.

Heirs may challenge the will. There may be multiple DIY wills or no will at all. Such matters can complicate matters significantly. When this happens, probate may be necessary.

Dealing with Probate

Probate can be a long process. In some cases, it can be avoided through solid estate planning. However, in other cases, probate may simply be unavoidable. In these situations, strong estate planning is still helpful. With the proper documents and an experienced estate attorney, the probate process can go smoothly.

Need an Oregon probate attorney? Skinner Law can help. Contact us to learn more.