Probate is the legal process of administering a person’s estate and assets after their death. If a person died without leaving a will, probate will be required to ensure all debt are paid and that the remaining assets of the estate are distributed to the rightful heirs. If a person died leaving a will, probate will involve proving that the will is legally valid, executing the will instructions and paying applicable debts & taxes.
Proper estate planning and having a clearly written will can make the process smoother and easier on your family and heirs. A will is your opportunity to specify in writing who gets what from your estate, who should be in charge (the executor), and perhaps more important, who should take care of your children if something were to happen to you.
If you die without a will, the court will decide many of these issues and your estate will be distributed according to the intestate laws in Oregon.
When thinking about estate planning, it’s vital to understand what will happen when you pass away. A good attorney can help you through this process and bring you peace of mind.
Probate Terms to Know
Legal terminology can be difficult to understand and be overwhelming when you’re already dealing with the passing of a loved one. Here are a few useful terms to know:
- Decedent: The deceased person whose estate is going through probate.
- Executor or Personal Representative: The person in charge of carrying out the instructions in the will and administering the estate.
- Intestate: A case where someone dies without a will.
- Intestacy: State laws determining how to distribute such intestate (no will) estates.
- Letters Testamentary: A document from a probate court granting official authority to administer an estate of a decedent who has a will.
- Letters of Administration: A document from a probate court granting official authority to administer an estate of a decedent who did not have a will.
- Notice of probate and notice to creditors: Notices that the executor has to submit, in writing, to the heirs (“interested parties”) and creditors.
- Small Estate Affidavit: An affidavit used to administer smaller estates without having to go through the entire probate process.