Can Oregon Inmates Inherit?

by Timothy Mucciante Google

Inmates in Oregon, whether state or federal, have the right to any inheritance properly left to them. The actual process of an inmate receiving and managing the funds or property that he is inheriting is impacted by the rules of the Oregon Department of Corrections. The DOC may collect any funds owed to county, state or federal governments, as well as the cost of care and restitution owed to individual victims or organizations, from any inheritance.

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Receiving the Inheritance

If an inmate inherits stocks, mutual funds, or other investments, she will receive the actual paper proof of those assets. For inherited real estate, the inmate is permitted to receive the property deed. The inmate cannot receive any brokerage statements or manage the investments while incarcerated, so the inmate may give authority over the investments or property to a third party. The DOC may require an inmate to provide financial information, and may use third-party sources, to find any assets owned by an inmate, including those he inherited.

Cost of Care

Oregon DOC rules require an inmate to reimburse the state for the cost of care. An inmate's ability to do so is evaluated when she enters the Oregon prison system, or anytime during her sentence. Once the inmate's financial resources are identified, the DOC may issue an Ability to Pay Order to the inmate or her representative. The DOC may seize any assets owned by the inmate up to the $55,000 biennial cost of care. Further, the DOC may issue a distraint warrant commanding the county sheriff to seize and sell the inmate's real and personal property to pay for the cost of care.

Payment of Restitution and Other Obligations

The DOC may take inmate funds to pay restitution owed to the inmate's victims. State law requires that the sentencing judge order restitution to the inmate's victims "whenever possible." The DOC may collect restitution only when the sentencing court actually imposes restitution. In addition to the state cost of care, depending on the circumstances, an inmate may be required to pay the cost of incarceration in the county or local jail while waiting for trial or pending transfer to the DOC after a conviction.

Money Owed to the Federal Government

The Oregon DOC may not confiscate funds from an inmate's account, including inherited funds, to pay a federal financial obligation, such as taxes or student loans, without a specific court order to do so. Incarcerated inmates in a federal prison located in Oregon may have to pay cost of confinement in the federal prison. These funds may be deducted automatically from the inmate's account, as well as any amounts owed to the federal court for court costs, fines, or restitution.