Probate and Trust Administration

Death is hard. The legal process shouldn’t make it harder.

After the death of a loved one, many people find themselves burdened with grief while also encumbered by confusion and a long list of tasks. It can be stressful and overwhelming to know what to do, who should do it, and how to get legal authority to do it properly.

When a person executes a revocable trust before their death, there is still work that must be done properly to administer the assets held by their trust after their death or incapacity. The person who manages assets held in a trust is called the Trustee. The Trustee has many important duties they must follow in carrying out the terms of a trust, including managing all property, satisfying debts of the deceased person, filing income and estate tax returns when required, and transferring the trust assets as directed by the trust’s terms. While the process can be simpler than probate, many similar steps must still be followed and properly documented. Beneficiaries of a trust also have certain rights to information and reports. Whether you are serving as a Trustee or you are a beneficiary of a trust, an attorney is a critical part of the trust administration process.

Probate is the court-supervised process of transferring assets from a deceased person’s estate to his or her beneficiaries. Depending on the family dynamics, whether the deceased person had an estate plan, and the nature and extent of the estate, the probate process can be simple and straightforward or, sometimes, very complex. In all probates, a personal representative must be appointed. The personal representative has legal authority to administer the estate, which includes locating and collecting assets, reporting to the court, and distributing them to the beneficiaries. The personal representative must also follow many rules to avoid personal liability and each probate has presents unique issues and potential pitfalls. Whether you are serving as a personal representative or you are an heir or beneficiary of the estate, it is essential to consult with an attorney throughout the probate process.

Sometimes probate or trust administration can be avoided through small estate proceedings, affidavits for certain assets (like cars and small bank accounts), beneficiary designations, or specific types of property ownership. While it is best to create an estate plan ahead of time that may incorporate some of these tools, it may be possible to avoid a full probate under some circumstances.

The attorneys at Breakwater Law can help guide you through what to do when a loved one dies and how to make the process as efficient, cost-effective, and stress-free as possible.

Our services include (Oregon and Washington):

  • Probate of a Will
  • Trust Administration Upon Incapacity
  • Beneficiary Representation
  • Probate Without a Will
  • Trust Administration Upon Death
  • Small Estates
  • Trustee Representation
  • Customized Legal Guidance on What to Do When a Loved One Dies

Contact us today to make an appointment at
(503) 878-8948 or