Oregon Small Estate Laws

by Anna Assad

If a person in Oregon dies and leaves behind an estate that qualifies as "small" under state law, his beneficiaries and heirs may not have to start full probate court proceedings to settle the estate. Oregon has two types of affidavits, which are sworn statements, for small estates: the testate affidavit and the intestate affidavit. The testate affidavit is used if the deceased left a will. If he didn't leave a will, the intestate affidavit is used. The affidavit filer must wait until 30 days after the deceased's death before filing the affidavit in probate court. She may file the affidavit in the probate court in the county where the deceased died or where he lived or owned real estate. The filer must submit the original will with the testate affidavit. Oregon law requires a certified copy of the death certificate for both affidavit types.

Qualifying Estates

Oregon law sets the property value amounts that determine whether an estate qualifies as a small estate. To qualify, the total value of the estate's personal property can't exceed $50,000. Personal property consists of all property the deceased owned, such as bank accounts and vehicles, that are not real estate or property that usually passes without the need for probate proceedings, such as money from a life insurance policy. Any real estate the deceased owned must have a value of $90,000 or less. For both types of property, the law considers the "fair market" value, which is the amount for which the property would sell under normal circumstances.

Eligible Filers

A person who wishes to file an affidavit in court to settle a small estate in Oregon must be eligible to do so under Oregon law. A legal heir, such as a child, spouse, parent or sibling, is considered a claiming successor, as well as any person or entity that received a gift under the deceased's will or was nominated as the will's executor. If the deceased has creditors and the creditors are not paid within 60 days of the deceased's death, a creditor may be able to file the affidavit if the deceased left a will or heirs. If the deceased has no heirs and didn't leave a will, the Oregon Director of the Division of State Lands may file the affidavit. Any creditor who wants to file the affidavit if there is no will or heirs must obtain written authorization from the Oregon Division of State Lands.

Affidavit Contents

You can purchase affidavit forms online or use an online document preparation website to supply and prepare the appropriate affidavit for you. Both testate and intestate forms include the statements required by law, but the filer must give some specific estate information as well. All affidavits must contain the name, address, Social Security number and age of the deceased, as well as a list of all the deceased's property and the property values. The filer must provide the place and date of the deceased's death and the names and last known addresses or all heirs. If the deceased had a will, names and addresses of will beneficiaries must be included. The filer must state the amount of interest each beneficiary or heir has in the estate property and the names of any creditors along with debt owed and any identifying information, such as account numbers.

Filer's Responsibilities

A person who files a small estate affidavit in Oregon has some obligations under state law. She must mail a copy of the filed affidavit and will, if there is one, to all heirs, will beneficiaries, creditors with open debts, any persons or entities with a claim against the estate, Oregon Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority within 30 days after filing. The filer also must take over any property the deceased left. For example, if the deceased had bank accounts, not sooner than 10 days after filing the affidavit, the filer must take a certified copy of the affidavit to the bank and collect the funds. She must pay all estate expenses and debts before transferring property to heirs and will beneficiaries.

Filer Time Restriction and Liabilities

The filer generally should wait until four months have passed after filing the affidavit before transferring the deceased's property. However, she may sell vehicles before the four months pass and any personal or real property the deceased owned if all heirs and beneficiaries agree to the sale. However, the filer is personally liable under state law to any unpaid creditors for up to the amount of property she received, to any heirs or beneficiaries she omitted, and to any estate administrator who is appointed after she filed the affidavit but before the four months have passed.