Probate Laws: What To Do When Someone Dies in Oregon

When a person dies, the things they own must be distributed elsewhere. The assets go to whoever is designated in the will as the heirs. Unfortunately, you can’t wait until you’re done grieving to move forward with this process. The assets must be protected and maintained, and debts must be paid.

The process of transferring ownership of property and other assets must go through the courts as probate. Each state has its own laws for probate, and it’s important to know how it works.

Man reviewing probate documents

Is Probate Required in Oregon?

Probate is necessary for estates in Oregon with a few exceptions. This process is how the court ensures that the wishes of the deceased person are followed as directed in their will and that all legal obligations are fulfilled.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Oregon?

It is possible to avoid probate in Oregon, but you must be careful to plan ahead. The best method is by putting the estate in a revocable living trust. The person named as beneficiary would automatically receive everything in the trust when the owner passes away.

In some cases, you may not be able to avoid probate entirely, but you can keep some assets out of it. Some assets allow a beneficiary to be named, which will allow them to inherit without going to probate. Examples of this include bank accounts with someone as payable on death or life insurance policies with a beneficiary.

When a property or other asset is owned by two or more people jointly, the surviving owners are the new owners. They must be joint owners, such as spouses who own property together or two business people as equal owners.

Man with laptop reviewing probate documents

Can a Personal Representative or Executor of an Estate in Oregon be Compensated?

An executor isn’t expected to donate their time. Oregon allows for them to receive compensation for their time and for any expenses they have from doing their job or for managing the estate’s assets.

How Much Does an Executor in Oregon Get Paid?

Oregon statutes allow for compensation based on the value of their services. The executor or personal representative may ask for a different method of compensation by filing the request with the court. In section 116-173, it details the normal amount of compensation to be given:

If the executor’s duties were beyond what is considered normal, they may receive a greater amount of pay. If the decedent provided for compensation in the will, it carries precedence.

How Long Does Probate in Oregon Take?

The timeline for probate can vary, but it will last at least four months because creditors must have time to file a claim against the estate. However, it is likely to last much longer, especially if the estate has any size.

If someone contests the will or other delays happen, it will lengthen the time. Probate can take years, but even in the best case, you should expect it to take between six months to a year before it is completed and the assets are dispersed.

Hourglass with sand falling as coins - with probate, the payout comes after court processes

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Oregon?

All estates must go through probate unless they meet one of the few exceptions. However, some estates may qualify for a simplified version or probate that is less complicated and time-consuming. It is known as a small estate proceeding. The personal property of the decedent can be worth no more than $75,000. Real property cannot have a value of more than $200,000. This process can’t start until 30 days after the person’s death, but it is completed once it has been filed.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Oregon?

A will must be filed with the court in the county where the deceased person lived before they died. Even if there is no property to probate, the will must be presented. The court will determine if the will is valid. It also allows for any assets that may be discovered in the future to be transferred correctly.

Is there an Estate Tax in Oregon?

Yes, there is an estate tax in Oregon. This tax is different than any federal estate taxes that may be owed. If the value of the estate is more than $1 million then an estate tax return must be filed. The deadline for filing estate taxes is within nine months of the date of death.

Life Insurance and Estate Planning in Oregon

With estate planning, you can set it up so your assets and belongings pass to your beneficiaries without the need to go through probate. For example, if you have a named beneficiary on your life insurance policies then these policies will not have to go through the probate process.

Who Gets Real Estate Owned by the Deceased Person

Who inherits the deceased person’s real estate will depend on several things. First, if the deceased had a Last Will and Testament then the property will be passed according to the guidelines in the will. If the person died ‘intestate’, meaning they died without a will, then their property will typically be passed in order of ‘intestate succession’ or according to who is first in line. Generally, the surviving spouse and immediate family members are first in line.

The Oregon Probate Process

Probate Process in 7 Steps

Settling an estate in Oregon requires the following specific guidelines. It is important to meet the deadlines and complete all the steps in the process.

Step 1

The Executor of the estate files a petition with the court to open probate.

Step 2

The court appoints an Executor of Estate or Personal Representative.

Step 3

The Executor of the Estate notifies the heirs and publishes notice of probate for creditors.

Step 4

The Executor takes inventory of all assets of the estate and appraises their value.

Step 5

The Executor pays the debts of the estate, including any money owed to creditors who file a claim against the estate. If assets must be sold to pay the debts, the executor will need to get approval from the court for the sale.

Step 6

The final tax returns are filed and any taxes are paid from the estate.

Step 7

The assets of the estate are distributed to the heirs and probate is closed.


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How Long Do You Have to File Probate After a Death in Oregon?

You can file probate right after the person dies in Oregon. While there isn’t a strict timeline to file, it should be done in a timely manner. Other deadlines exist that must be followed. For instance, a list of assets must be provided within 90 days after the executor was appointed.

Probate Court in Oregon

The county circuit court is the court that handles probate. You can find the court for the county where the decedent lived by going to the Oregon state judiciary website: Oregon Judicial Department : Find a Court : Oregon State Courts : State of Oregon.

Probate Code in Oregon

Oregon laws regarding probate are found in the Oregon statutes in Title 12. You can find it online to learn the rules on how it should be handled.