Estate planning (i.e. preparing a will, a trust, or using other “probate substitutes”) is not an easy thing to think about, especially for younger adults. You still have your whole life ahead of you! However, if you or a loved one pass away without a valid estate plan (Will, trust, or any other form of estate planning), then the laws of the State of Oregon dictate who receives your estate and you’ll have no control over what happens to your estate (which is everything you own, including real estate, money, investments, and all other belongings with value).
What is intestate succession?
Intestate succession is the legal term for when someone passes away without a valid estate plan.
Dying “intestate” will also usually require your estate to go through probate before it can be distributed to your heirs. You may have an estate plan, but it may not be valid if you haven’t done it according to the requirements of the state in which you made the estate plan.
If you don’t have a valid estate plan upon your death, the State of Oregon has one for you based on intestate succession laws. Oregon’s intestacy laws control who receives your property and how much of it, regardless of whether you want those persons designated by the intestacy laws to receive your property. In many cases, we have seen Oregon intestacy laws distribute estates contrary to what the deceased person actually wanted. This can be prevented with proper estate planning!
What happens when you die without a valid will in Oregon?
Oregon laws determine what happens to your estate if you die without a valid estate plan (usually a Will or a trust) based on the following rules.
If you die with a surviving spouse only:
If you have no other immediate family members aside from a spouse, 100% of your estate goes to your spouse.
If you die with a surviving spouse and children only with that spouse:
The same as above, 100% of your estate goes to your spouse. Notably, 0% of your estate is directed to your children in this instance.
If you die with a surviving spouse and children with persons other than that spouse:
In this case, 50% of your estate goes to your spouse and the remaining 50% is split equally among your children who are not from your surviving spouse.
If you die with no surviving spouse:
If you are survived by children/grandchildren but no spouse, 100% of your estate goes to your surviving descendants (children or grandchildren) in equal shares by representation. This means your share is spread equally among however many children your children.
If you die with no surviving spouse and no surviving descendants:
In this case, 100% of your estate goes to your surviving parents in equal shares.
If you die with no surviving spouse, no surviving descendants, and no surviving parents:
If your siblings are your closest surviving family members, they will receive 100% of your estate split in equal shares (or to their surviving children, by representation).
If you die with no surviving spouse, descendants, parents, or siblings:
100% of your estate goes to your surviving grandparents, and if they are deceased, to the descendants of your surviving grandparents, by representation.
If you die with no surviving immediate relatives:
In this unfortunate situation, any unclaimed property is escheated. This means it will be placed into an unclaimed property status with the State of Oregon.
How to avoid intestate succession
This is where estate planning comes in! Estate planning is about managing your estate during your lifetime and making sure your wishes are carried out upon your passing. Here at De Alicante Law Group, we can help you make that plan in advance. We’ll ensure that you are taken care of first, that your estate takes care of your family in the way you want it to, and that your estate pays the smallest amount allowable in legal fees, court costs, and taxes.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, or learn more about our estate planning services here!