Wills in Oregon

by Beverly Bird
If you marry after you make your will in Oregon, the marriage may revoke the will.

If you marry after you make your will in Oregon, the marriage may revoke the will.

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Each state has unique laws governing estates and wills. In Oregon, you can disinherit anyone except your spouse. If you disinherit your child, however, speak to an attorney to make sure you clearly state that in your will, as you cannot disinherit a child by omission: Oregon law presumes you forgot to mention a child who is not in your will, and may award the child a share of your estate equal to that which your other children receive.

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Basic Requirements

You must be 18 to legally write a will in Oregon, unless you are married or were married and divorced prior to reaching 18 years of age. Your will must be written; oral wills -- also called noncupative wills -- are not accepted. If you cannot sign your name to your will, Oregon allows someone else to do it for you. However, that person must also sign his own name and write on the will that he did this at your request. If you write anything on your will after it is signed and witnessed, you might invalidate it.

Witnesses

Two adults must watch you sign your will, and must witness each other sign it, as well. They are permitted to also be beneficiaries.

Spouse Rights

Oregon's law provides for an elective share of 25 percent of your estate to your spouse if you neglect to include her in your will or try to disinherit her. She has a right to renounce your will and take the percentage share instead of any bequest you did or did not make to her. If you leave her less than 25 percent of the value of your estate, she can “take against” your will up to the elective share.

Revocation by Marriage or Divorce

Unless you specifically state in your will that you want it to override state law and remain in effect when you marry, a marriage after you make your will nullifies the document. A prenuptial agreement also supersedes this law if your spouse relinquishes her portion of your estate in the agreement. If you divorce after you make your will, any provisions in it relating to your ex-spouse are nullified as of the date of your divorce decree.

Executor Fees

It is common to name an executor when you make your will. This is the person you choose to see your property through the probate process and to make sure your beneficiaries receive what you give them. In Oregon, an executor is paid a percentage of your estate in exchange for doing this. It is generally the same percentage whether the executor is a family member, friend or professional. When you make your will, you can opt to have a bank or trust company do the job without worrying that it will cost your estate more.

Dying Without a Will

If you die without a will in Oregon, the state could potentially take your property if it cannot find any living relatives. Normally, however, your spouse inherits your entire estate if you have no children, or if you do have children but he is their other parent. If you have children from another relationship, your spouse gets half of your estate when you die without a will and they get the other half. If you have no spouse or children, your parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces or nephews inherit if Oregon can locate them.