Probate is the time after someone has deceased where their assets are distributed and any debts are paid. A Portland probate lawyer handles the process of filing the last will and testament of someone who has recently passed. Another common title for this type of attorney is an estate or trust lawyer. The probate process can be complex, but there is no law stating that you have to consult with an attorney to handle or oversee the process. When someone has a simple estate and will, then a lawyer may not be necessary; however, there are many instances where it is beneficial to seek the guidance of someone more educated in probate law to ensure that you do not make a mistake.
Complications Surrounding the Will
When a person dies, the estate is handled according to the will, if there is one. The executor of the will typically files the will in court, which often requires filling out a petition form and filing it so that probate may commence. The filing of the will may not require a Portland probate lawyer, but if there is any controversy surrounding the will, then it is beneficial to consult with a lawyer. There are certain criteria that a will may have to meet, and one that does not meet the criteria may require additional steps even if the beneficiaries or other interested parties are not contesting the will. In the case of a contested will, then it will become necessary to hire a lawyer. This may also include times where there is ambiguity in the wording of the will or when spouses claim that the property bequeathed to someone is community property.
Complicated Taxes or Debt
Part of the probate process is to handle any debt, contracts, taxes or other business that the deceased may have that remains unfinished. If any aspects of this are complicated, then it is to your benefit to consult with a Portland probate lawyer to ensure that you handle everything correctly. A lawyer may also be able to help you if the deceased owes more money than what the assets of the estate are worth. You also do not want to handle any unfinished contracts, such as the sale of any property or business, without talking with an attorney to ensure that you handle it correctly so that it does not become an issue in the future.
Probate vs. Non-probate Property
Some property does not need to go through probate. It depends largely on how the deceased person left his or her estate, including how specific the will was. Non-probate property is that which is held in joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety or survivorship community probate. If a beneficiary was specifically named, then typically the probate process does not have to occur. However, assets for which the deceased solely owned for whom no named beneficiary exists are typically probate property. If there are a significant number of assets that are probate property, then you may wish to consult with a lawyer before handling the estate so that everything runs smoothly.
There are many other complex situations that may benefit from the assistance of a Portland probate lawyer. Many attorneys offer free consultations so that you can discuss your situation and determine whether or not you can handle the procedures alone.
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