Probate is the court process to transfer assets of a decedent to the named beneficiaries under a will or via intestate succession if the decedent did not execute a will. Intestate succession is the statutorily defined default order of beneficiaries.
If the gross probate estate is less than $200,000 in real property and less than $75,000 in cash assets and personal property, an affiant can file an Affidavit of Claiming Successor with the court. ORS 112.015 provides details as to who may serve in this role. Such a probate is simpler and far less expensive than a full probate. An affidavit cannot be filed with the court until thirty days after the death of the decedent. Once the affidavit has been filed with the court, the affiant must provide the Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority with notices. The affiant is not required to publish notice in the newspaper to creditors. There is then a four-month creditor waiting period before the affiant can distribute the assets of the estate.
An important limitation is that an estate is not eligible for the small estate probate procedure if the affiant only has a copy of the will. If the decedent executed a will, the original will is required to use this simplified probate process. Further, the will must be properly executed under Oregon law. Affiants often fail to include the Affidavit of Attesting Witnesses with the will, and the court will not accept their documents without this affidavit. Julia guides clients through the small estate probate process to ensure the legal requirements are properly met.