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Experienced Probate Attorney

Rhett Bernstein serves clients throughout Clackamas County and all of Oregon.

When a loved-one passes away, some assets left behind, such as a house, must be transferred via a process called probate from the loved one (decedent) to the loved one’s surviving family or friends (heir or devisee). Probate is the court-supervised transfer of property from the decedent to his or her heirs and devisees.

Leaving behind a valid will directs the Court as to who receives the decedent’s estate. It also nominates a person to carry the decedent’s estate through probate, called a personal representative. We used to call this person an executor or executrix (depending on the gender). When a decedent leaves behind a will, the decedent dies “testate.”

When the decedent does not leave behind a will, Oregon state law directs the Court as to who receives the decedent’s estate, and who may serve as personal representative. When a decedent does not leave behind a valid will, the decedent dies “intestate.”

The Probate Process

Probate begins when the will and the appropriate petition is filed with the appropriate Court. The Court issues “letters testamentary,” which recognize a particular person as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. He or she undertakes the fiduciary duty to legally walk the estate through all the statutory obligations of probate, which includes a large number of arduous tasks and legal filings over at least a four-month period.

The personal representative is bound to complete the following:

  • Carry out the necessary tasks of the estate
  • Act prudently regarding assets (for example, only invest in the most conservative investments)
  • Act loyally, that is, avoid conflicts of interest
  • Act impartially to all heirs, beneficiaries, creditors
  • Protect estate assets
  • Delegate wisely
  • Provide information to heirs and beneficiaries
  • Keep a paper trail of all transactions

Probate Lawyer in West Linn - Rhett Bernsetin

Rhett L. Bernstein has been serving clients dealing with the estates of loved ones for more than a decade, helping family and friends navigate the complicated and confusing probate process from beginning to end. Simply determining which assets are subject to the probate process and which assets are transferred outside of the probate process is a difficult task that loved ones face immediately. Determining whether a small-estate probate or a full-blown probate is appropriate is another question that is difficult to answer. Rhett L. Bernstein uses his sound understanding of the law to quickly determine the legally appropriate course of action, and offer sound advice in a manner that is easy to receive.