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There are many complex and frustrating aspects to probate, including completing time-sensitive paperwork, filing taxes, dealing with collection agencies, or preparing important legal court documents.

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We Have a Will, Do We Have to Go Through Probate?

Under most circumstances, yes.  A will is a document in which a person names a Personal Representative or Executor who will manage their estate and distribute their assets to specified beneficiaries upon their death.  At death, the will is administered in a court-supervised legal process known as probate.

Unless the decedent’s assets are jointly held (i.e, with a spouse) or there is a beneficiary designation like an IRA),  probate is necessary and will assure that beneficiaries are properly distributed the assets intended by the decedent.

You Need Answers

Although many people are familiar with the terms will, estate, and assets, the idea of the probate process may be confusing.   In their grief for the recent loss of their loved one, the thought of being involved in some lengthy legal process may be intimidating and hard to understand.  Certainly, they may have the following questions:

  • How long does probate last?
  • What is the difference between Probate and Trust Administration?
  • I have been named the Personal Representative (PR) of the estate, what are my duties?
  • Am I entitled to compensation for my role as the PR?
  • What happens if I make a mistake as the PR?  Will I be liable for damages?
  • How do I find the heirs?
  • Can I distribute property before I have an order from the judge?
  • There were debts, who do I pay first?
  • As a Personal Representative, do I have to pay the taxes?
  • What if I can’t perform my duties as PR?
  • How do I get a poorly performing or corrupt PR removed from the probate proceedings?
  • How long does the probate process usually take?

Should I have Legal Counsel?

There are many complex and frustrating aspects to probate, including completing time-sensitive paperwork, filing taxes, dealing with collection agencies, or preparing important legal court documents.  A good attorney can offer a more objective third-party mindset to help alleviate these headaches so you can avoid legal pitfalls and carry on with your daily life.  Scenarios, where a personal representative might be better served with an attorney, includes:

Scenario #1:   After a death, some relationships can get strained, even in the strongest of families.  When siblings, step-parents, aunts, and uncles all have a personal stake in the assets of a decedent, a probate attorney can help to deflect some of those family tensions and offer a non-biased voice to the proceedings.

Scenario #2: When your great-aunt died in Oregon, the practicality of managing her estate became very very difficult, considering that she owned mineral rights in Montana.  Hiring a probate attorney could make the process much smoother and reduce time and travel expenses.

Scenario #3: When their mother died, she left a vast collection of jewelry, artwork, several collectible cars, and two real estate properties.  The process of appraising and accounting for all of the property is taking time from work and your boss is getting upset with the absences.  What are your options?

Scenario #4: No one can find the will (or we only have a copy).  What should I do?

Scenario #5: My mom left money to my minor daughter for her college education.  How do I handle it?

Scenario #6:  What if someone dies without a will or naming a personal representative?

Buckley Law P.C. can help you with your probate questions.

The attorneys at Buckley Law are experienced with guiding clients through the probate process. If you are a Personal Representative of an estate (or need to create a will) and need help understanding the basic aspects of probate, how long the process takes, or what your responsibilities are, our attorneys can help.

Email us or call 503.620.8900 today for more info and to talk with an experienced attorney. For your convenience, Buckley Law has attorneys licensed in both Oregon and Washington.

Key Contacts

Layla Kailani Maka’ui McLean


Steffany S. Jastak, CPA


Let's work together.