Settling Small Estates (OR)

Updated Apr 5, 2024
Show Table of Contents Courthouse for estate probate

Full probate is not required for "simple" estates in Oregon, allowing executors to save considerable effort and cost, and regardless of estate size, probate is not required if an estate contains only assets exempt from probate.

Small Estate Requirements

To use the simple estate approach in Oregon, the following conditions must be true:

  • The gross value of any real property (i.e., real estate) is <$200,000 (don't subtract mortgages)
  • The gross value of any personal property is <$75,000
  • More than 30 days have passed since the death
  • You must be someone entitled to inherit from the estate, or named in the will as personal representative

In calculating estate value, you should value assets as of the date of death, and ignore any debts. Do not include assets that would not normally go through probate, such as community property with right of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.

If the death occurred more than a year before applying for the small estate affidavit, value assets as of a date within 45 days of the application.


If the estate qualifies, you can simplify the probate process as follows:

  1. Submit a OR Simple Estate Affidavit to the court, along with a copy of the death certificate and the original will (if one exists)
  2. Within 30 days, make the required notices listed in the affidavit (to heirs, creditors, etc.)
  3. Using the court-approved affidavit, collect all estate assets from current custodians
  4. Resolve estate debts (see Estate Settlement Considerations below)
  5. After 4 months have passed since the affidavit approval (and you have resolved all debts), you may distribute the remaining assets to heirs

See ORS § 114.515 and ORS § 114.510 for statute details.

Estate Settlement Considerations

Before paying any debts or making any distributions, be sure to account for any Family Entitlements in OR, which typically have priority over everything except expenses of the last illness, funeral charges, and any estate administrations expenses.

Even if the estate does not go through probate, you may still be entitled to Executor Compensation in OR, and this compensation also has priority over most estate debts.

Estate debts have priority over most distributions in turn, so before distributing assets you should resolve any estate debts. If the estate makes any distributions beyond amounts set aside for family entitlements, unpaid creditors have the right to sue the recipients for repayment using those excess distributions. Consequently, even if the settlement process does not require you to publish a Notice to Creditors, you may want to follow OR probate rules for finding estate debts, since doing so may limit the time creditors have to pursue repayment.

If estate solvency is uncertain, an executor should consider going through official probate for the increased creditor protection it offers. Alternately, such uncertainty can sometimes persuade creditors to forgive a portion of debts, since they will want to avoid legal expenses as well, and may prefer to get something rather than nothing.

See also Making Distributions.

Debt Priorities

See ORS § 115.125 for details on priority of claims if the estate does not have enough resources to pay all debts.


In Oregon, the local Circuit Court handles wills and estate probate, except in Grant, Harney, Malheur, Sherman, and Wheeler Counties, where the local County Court has jurisdiction (note that Gilliam County transferred responsibility from its County Court to the Circuit Court in 12/23). If you are using EstateExec and you enter the decedent's county of legal residence on the Decedent tab, you will see a direct link to the appropriate court here.

Additional Information

If your estate doesn't qualify for a small estate approach, or you're simply interested in exploring standard probate, take a look at Probate in OR.

And since probate is just the court-supervised subset of winding up a person's affairs after death, you'll probably want to check out our Complete Guide to Estate Settlement in OR.

Finally, in case you're interested, details about handling small estates in other states can be found here:

Copyright © 2014-24 EstateExec