The probate process can be long and drawn-out, costing your survivors time as well as money. Fortunately, Oregon offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." If the property you leave behind at your death is below a certain amount, your loved ones can use a procedure called a "small estate proceeding" to transfer your property more quickly and with less hassle.
You can use a small estate proceeding in Oregon if:
To open the small estate proceeding, you'll need to file an Affidavit of Claiming Successor (here's a sample). You can file this document only if you are the personal representative of the estate, or if you are a "claiming successor," which is someone who inherits under the will, an heir who inherits under intestate succession law, or a creditor.
This affidavit must include a long list of information and some attachments. These requirements are laid out in Oregon Revised Statutes § 114.525 and include:
After filing the affidavit, you'll obtain certified copies of the affidavit from the court. You'll then present the certified Affidavit of Claiming Successor to the person or institution holding the property you need to collect—for example, the bank where the deceased person had an account. The person or institution then transfers the property.
If the property you're collecting is real estate, the process is a little different. You'll need to go to the land records office (called a recorder's office in Oregon) in the county where the real estate is located. You'll then record a deed in the name of the new owner. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 114.555(3).)
For help determining if an estate qualifies for this probate shortcut, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo) or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).
For more on Oregon estate planning issues, see our section on Oregon Estate Planning.