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Small Estates

Filing Small Estates

ELIGIBLE ESTATES

A small estate affidavit may be filed if:

  • $75,000 or less of the fair market value of the estate is from personal property, and
  • $200,000 or less of the fair market value of the estate is from real property.
     

The dollar limits do not include any property that transfers without probate or the small estate process (such as bank accounts or real property held with right of survivorship).

Note:  Effective January 1, 2010, the estate value amounts increased.  The total value of estate may not be greater than $275,000, of which not more than $75,000 may be personal property and not more than $200,000 may be real property.

DEFINITIONS THAT APPLY TO THE PROCESS

  • Affiant: The person signing this affidavit is the "affiant." The affiant has specific legal duties under ORS 114.505 to 114.560.
  • Decedent: The "decedent" is the person who died leaving an estate that needs to be paid to creditors or transferred to heirs or devisees.
  • Estate: The "estate" means all of the decedent’s property that is subject to administration by a court in Oregon. This does not include property that transfers automatically to others following death (such as joint bank accounts).
  • Heirs: The "heirs" are the people who would inherit the decedent's estate under Oregon's laws of intestacy, ORS 112.017 to 112.115.
  • Devisees: The "devisees" are the people named in the will to receive the decedent’s estate. Charities can also be devisees.
  • Personal property: All other property that is not real property, including contracts for the sale of real property, bank accounts, vehicles, and so on.
  • Real property: Land or interests in land, such as life estates.
  • Fair market value: The value of the property on the open market (between unrelated parties), not reduced to reflect debts owed against the property.

WHO CAN FILE

  • If the decedent died intestate (did not leave a will), the heirs entitled by law to the decedent’s estate, or the Division of State Lands if there are no heirs.
  • If the decedent died testate (with a will) the devisees of the estate.
  • Any creditor of the estate who has not been paid the full amount owed within 60 days of the decedent’s death.

Note: If the decedent died intestate and without heirs, a creditor cannot file without first receiving authorization from the Division of State Lands, see ORS 114.520.

HOW TO FILE

  • Fill out the form. Do not leave any part blank. If a part does not apply, write in "does not apply" or "none."
  • Have your signature notarized. A court clerk can also certify your signature provided you sign in front of the clerk.
  • Get a certified copy of the death certificate.
  • Get the original will, if one exists. The original will was signed by the decedent (not a copy).
  • File the affidavit, death certificate, and original will (if any) at the Justice Building, 1100 NW Bond Street, Bend, Oregon 97701. A filing fee of $105 is required.

Note: You may want to request a certified copy of your filed documents ($5.00 for each whole document certified plus $.25 per page), many agencies require a certified court document for proof of the estate.

WHEN TO FILE

  • The affidavit cannot be filed until 30 days after the death of the decedent.

WHERE TO FILE

  • The Circuit Court for the county in which the decedent died,
  • Any county in which the decedent lived or had a home at death, or
  • Any county in which any property of the decedent was located at death or when the affidavit is filed.

CLAIMS AGAINST THE ESTATE
See ORS 114.540.

QUESTIONS

The court staff is not allowed to give legal advice. If you have questions about handling a small estate, or whether a small estate is the right process for you to use, you should contact a lawyer. The Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service can provide names of lawyers in your area who accept referrals in this area. The number for the referral service is 1-800-452-8260.

The references to ORS in these instructions are to the Oregon Revised Statutes. You can read these at the law library or find them on the internet at: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/Pages/ORS.aspx (Chapter 112 and Chapter 114).