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Can Estate Planning Lawyers Help Portland Residents with Small Estate Administration?

— February 27, 2023

Estate planning is important regardless of age, wealth, or life circumstances or related variables.

Depending on what probate assets make up a decedent’s Oregon estate, an executor or administrator may be able to settle the estate without formal probate. Probate is the process of transferring property and ownership after someone has died. Whether an estate must be probated depends on how the decedent’s property is titled when they die, and if they die with or without a will in place.  Some property may not be part of the probate estate because it passes directly to another person by law. 

Small estates

Oregon provides a procedure for handling small estates and the benefit may be reduced cost and time for distributing the estate assets. The steps require filing a document called an “affidavit of claiming successor,” and can be initiated when the estate’s personal property is valued at $75,000 or less, and real property is valued at no more than $200,000, for a total aggregate estate value of no more than $275,000. Talk to a Portland estate planning lawyer about the differences between personal and real property toward aggregate value of assets. A small estate proceeding cannot be filed until 30 days after death and is complete upon filing.

  • Real property means land or interests in land such as a house, rental property, easement, mineral rights, or timber not harvested by date of death.
  • Personal property means any asset that is not real property such as money, intellectual property, material assets, bank accounts, insurance and investment accounts, and stocks and bonds for example.

If property transfer occurs through joint property, identification of beneficiaries in life insurance, bank, and retirements accounts, or through a trust, the assets can then transfer directly to the heirs. Other common issues that may allow probate to be bypassed include:

  • No assets to transfer. When an individual has no or little property at the time of their passing, or it is jointly owned by a spouse, child, or caregiver with a right of survivorship, any interest to property will be immediately transferred upon the death of the owner.  Financial accounts often have a right of survivorship or named beneficiary as well.
  • Trust funds. Part of the estate planning process is the understanding of protection of assets upon the passing of the owner of those assets.  Many people create trust accounts so they can have some control of who receives their assets when they pass as well as using a trust to protect property interests as they age.  Assets such as a home are often part of a trust, and assets used to fund a trust are not commonly subjected to probate oversight unless a beneficiary contests or challenges the ownership transfer.

Importance of estate planning

Sad man
Sad man; image courtesy of 1388843 via Pixabay,

Estate planning is important regardless of age, wealth, or life circumstances or related variables. An Oregon estate planning lawyer will review documents when estate planning is initiated to ascertain any loopholes that individuals would be able to contest when a will goes to probate. The resolution of probated estates can be time-consuming and dragged out, depending upon the nature of the assets left to distribute requiring the service of an estate planning lawyer. 

Tax concerns

A tax lawyer will be able to apprise beneficiaries of the inheritance tax liabilities associated with any type of asset they receive during estate settlements. Experienced lawyers will guide interested parties in accordance with Oregon probate and federal tax laws.  


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