Q: What is the legal process to gain legal authority to act on deceased behalf when there is no will and no estate?
My sister was struck and killed by a car in November 2019 in Portland OR. She was married and has no children. She died without a will and what we believe is an insolvent estate as we came to find out that she was secretly in a mountain of debt. Many collections agencies will not release information regarding her debt until I/her husband send something legal that says we have rights to access this information (a death certificate isn't enough). There is no Power of Attorney and we are considering not opening an estate, so there would be no appointed administrator. We need to find out the total of the debt to make an informed decision as to whether or not we file to open a small estate. Can you give advice as to how we can access this much needed account information? We are also seeking a probate/estate attorney to help navigate this. How do I find one?
A: I am so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, there is no legal way to obtain the information you need about your sister's debt without filing a probate. Since your sister passed without a Will her spouse will inherit her estate through Oregon's intestate laws. I recommend he hire an experienced probate attorney to meet with him and discuss what needs to happen next.
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