Wills and Probate Law
Should You Have a Will?
Every adult with property (real estate, cars, bank accounts, art collections, retirement accounts etc.), should have a properly executed will. Patricia Ferrell-French is experienced with Wills and Probate Law. It is important for you to make a will for several reasons:
(1) It enables you to select the people to whom you wish to leave your possessions rather than allowing state laws and the court to choose your heirs. Oregon law allows the court to select blood relatives, but those relatives may be people you dislike or distant relatives you have never met.
(2) It allows you to decide who is best qualified to serve as the administrator (the “Personal Representative”) of your estate. You will want the Personal Representative to distribute your property to your beneficiaries while protecting your beneficiaries’ interests. Otherwise, the court may appoint a stranger as the administrator or someone you would not want administrating your estate.
(3) Having a properly executed will protects your estate. Not having a will might ultimately cause the reduction of the size of your estate because additional legal fees and time delays always result when a court must appoint an administrator or must deal with any other matter that could have been disposed of by a properly executed will.
Oregon laws create the requirements for a properly executed will. Come talk to me so that I can help you create a will that clearly expresses your wishes as to the distribution of your property after your death.
What Is Probate? Do You Need An Attorney?
A person who dies leaving a will dies “testate.” A person who dies without having made a properly executed will dies “intestate.” The Oregon Revised Statutes govern the proceedings whereby a will is probated or an estate where there is no will is distributed. Probate proceedings are governed entirely by the Oregon Revised Statutes and by federal and state tax codes.
A will has no legal effect until it is probated. A deceased person’s titled property (such as, real estate and some financial holdings), cannot be transferred without a probate court order. Probate is the procedure whereby the court authorizes the distribution of the deceased’s property.
Probate is also the procedure whereby the court determines that a will is valid and genuine and then authorizes the distribution of the deceased person’s property according to the provisions of the will. If the decedent held title to property (real or personal), and had bank accounts, and valuable collections, etc, which he or she did not distribute prior to his or her death, his or her will must be admitted to probate before that property may be distributed to the beneficiaries. The court takes “jurisdiction” over the decedent’s estate, including collecting assets, settling creditors’ claims, and closing the estate and distributing the assets.
If you are the person nominated by a will to be the decedent’s Personal Representative, you should retain an attorney to represent you and guide you through the probate processes. Your attorney gets paid from the decedent’s estate upon the court’s approval of your attorney’s accounting of the time she spent on the case and her costs incurred in doing so. I am experienced in representing Personal Representatives and can help guide you through the process.
The probate of a will may be opposed, or contested. The appointment of a Personal Representative may also be opposed or contested. I am experienced in representing the Personal Representative in a will contest. I am also experienced representing parties contesting a will and parties contesting the distribution of an estate where the deceased died without a will.
Note: I do not do estate planning.
Come to my office and meet with me and explain your situation and I will tell you what I see as being your options and your legal rights and responsibilities. I can answer your questions and explain how you can retain me as your attorney. If you would like to come in a see me, call my assistant, Jon, at (503) 656-4154, and he can schedule an appointment for you.