Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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The way that a probate case works is the person named as executor of the estate files a petition for probate and is then appointed as executor of the estate by a probate court judge. They then have the legal authority to take possession of the assets of the estate and settle it.
But no assets are distribute to any heirs until all debts and taxes are paid and the required "creditor claims" period has expired. In OR, that period is 4 months as set by law. So it would likely be at least 6 months before an executor would disburse assets.
As for checking on probate, these are public proceedings so you can just call the local probate court in the county where the deceased lived to see if a probate case has been filed in their name.