estate administration

Probating Joint Bank Accounts in Oregon

Who Gets the Money in the Joint Checking Account?

People often open a joint account with a child or caretaker so that they can help take care of bills and expenses as they age.  This is typically done for convenience but once that person dies determining who owns the money in the account may not be as easy as you think.  

Under ORS 708A.470, the sums remaining in a bank at the death of a party to a joint account are rebuttably presumed to belong to the surviving party.   What this means in is that the child or caretaker on the account owns the remaining money but you may be able to fight it.  Most people assume that the Will determines who receives the money in the account.

The rebuttable presumption under ORS 708A.470 may be overcome by evidence that the deceased party (1) intended a different result; or (2) lacked capacity when the joint account was established.  

Although not as convenient as opening a joint account, there are many other ways to plan your estate so that you can be protected as you age.  I've written about them here.

 

 

 

 

Portland Probate Attorney
kevin@pnwprobate.com
(503) 893-5878

How much does Probate cost in Oregon?

One of the most common questions I am asked is how much the administration of a probate estate will cost the beneficiaries.

Probate Administration Costs

For 2016, the cost of filing for probate is $531 for the majority of estates.   The court also charges an accounting fee and that is determined by the value of the estate.  The public notice in the local paper runs between $100 and $500 depending on what part of Oregon you are filing in.  If the person died without a Will, the court will normally require a bond.  There may also be costs associated with selling property.  

Probate Legal Fees

Attorneys' fees in Oregon are based on the number of hours billed and the lawyer's hourly rate.  For the simplest of probates, the fees can be around $2000.  In general, probate legal fees will run between $3,000 and $5,000.    If the estate is large, complex or has unusual assets, the costs can be much higher.  If the heirs and beneficiaries are fighting or if there is outside litigation involved, the costs can be much higher.

All legal fees for the probate administration must be approved by the court.  Your probate lawyer will file with the court and with interested parties.  The court will make a determination on whether the fees are reasonable in light of a narrative and itemized bill.  This is a major protection for any beneficiary.  Judges will see thousands of attorney fee statements during their careers and will know what is reasonable.   Any interested party can object to fee and be allowed to speak the judge at a hearing.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me below.  I've also answered more questions on the Frequently Asked Question.  You can also learn more about Oregon Probate on my practice area page.

 

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Portland Probate Attorney
kevin@pnwprobate.com
(503) 893-5878

What Happens to assets if an Estate isn't Probated in Oregon?

Probate is just the court administered transfer of property after their death.  Not all property is subject to the court process and sometimes it doesn't make sense to initiate a probate proceeding.

Non-Probate Property

Beneficiary Designations

Some property doesn't have to be admitted to probate in order to transfer.  Think about your bank, brokerage or life insurance accounts.  Often times these accounts are transferable by the beneficiary designations.  When you initially opened these accounts you were probably asked to select a beneficiary.  Because these accounts are contracts between you and the bank, brokerage or insurance company, the beneficiary designation will direct whoever holds your account to transfer it to your beneficiary after your death.

Below is a snip from the Servicemember Group Life Insurance application.

SGLI Beneficiary
SGLI Beneficiary

If you read the language carefully it says "If you do not specifically name beneficiaries, your insurance will be paid by law."  What this often means is that if you don't designate a beneficiary the accounts will be paid to the estate and administered by the court.

While this is a quick and inexpensive way to transfer property after death it is very limited.  Like the picture above, most companies will allow you only a few options on how you want to distribute the account.  If you want to split the proceeds in a more complicated way you will need a more involved estate planning.

Keeping Beneficiary Designations up to Date

Using a beneficiary designation is only helpful if it is accurate.  I suggest that you review your accounts annually to make sure the designations are accurate and up to date.  It's not uncommon to find former husbands and wives as beneficiaries on accounts years after a divorce.   That is not a situation anyone wants to deal with your passing.

Transferable on Death Deeds

A few years Oregon adopted a Transfer on Death Deeds.  I believe most states have adopted them at this point.  Much like their name implies, these deeds transfer title in real estate on your death.   TODD are one of the most loved estate planning tools if you have an uncomplicated family.   The primary reason an estate has to be admitted to probate is real estate.  Removing real estate from the equation may let you avoid probate or allow you to settle the estate via the Small Estate process.

I've inserted a snip from ORS 93.975 that provides the form for TODD deeds.

TODD Language
TODD Language

If you only have one heir then a Transfer on Death Deed may make sense for you but anything more complicated and I would be leery of using it.

Abandoning Property

Often times someone will die owing more money than their estate is worth.  When this happens, heirs sometimes decide to just walk away and let the banks foreclose on the property.

If you have any questions about how probate works or what property is included, please feel free to contact me.

Portland Probate Attorney
kevin@pnwprobate.com
(503) 893-5878