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Oregon Wills And Estate Planning

On Behalf of | May 27, 2010 | Estate Planning

Creating an Oregon Will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death.  A Will is a formal expression of your last wishes. If drafted and executed properly, a Will allows you not only to designate who will receive the property you own upon death, but also how that property will be received.  Property can be received directly or can be kept in trust for the benefit of your heirs, permitting you to retain some control over the use of the property beyond your lifetime. A Will can also determine who will administer your probate estate and who will manage any trust established in your Will. A Will can also clearly set forth who will take care of your children and how they will be provided for after your death.

If you die without a Will, the laws of “intestacy” will determine the distribution of your assets. This  means that the state, not you, determines who receives your property. All too often, the law differs from one’s personal preference. When that happens, failure to create a valid Will results in property going to unintended individuals. Therefore, it is important to develop an estate plan which specifies your wishes clearly.


The Basic Requirements for an Oregon Last Will and Testament are as follows:

Age: The testator (person making the will) must be at least 18 years of age or married.

Capacity: The testator must be of sound (capable of reasoning and making decisions) mind, i.e. know the nature and extent of his or her estate.

Signature: The testator, in the presence of each of the witnesses, must sign an Oregon last will and testament or direct a witness or another person to sign the will in the name of the testator.

Witnesses: An Oregon last will and testament must be signed by signed by at least two witnesses, each of whom saw the testator sign the will or acknowledge the signature on the will.

Writing: An Oregon last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.

Beneficiaries: A will may make a disposition of property to any person.


A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Oregon laws allow you to dispose of your property as you see fit.

Other Functions of Wills:

An Oregon wills may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.

An Oregon wills may also be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator’s property and affairs from the time of death until the estate is settled.

An Oregon wills may pass on property to a charity.

An Oregon wills can be used to establish a trust for the care of your children

Providing for Pets

Under applicable Oregon laws, a trust designating a caretaker for a pet after the owner’s death is valid. The testator would have to create a testamentary addition to the will (known as a pour over will) that would devise the pet to a trustee.

Changing and Revoking and Oregon Will

Changing a Will

An Oregon will may be changed whenever the testator desires.

An Oregon will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Oregon probate laws

Revoking a Will

An Oregon will and testament or a part of a will and testament may be revoked or altered by another will. A will may be revoked by being burned, torn, canceled, obliterated or destroyed, with the intent and purpose of the testator of revoking the will, by the testator, or by another person at the direction of the testator and in the presence of the testator. The injury or destruction by a person other than the testator at the direction and in the presence of the testator shall be proved by at least two witnesses.

Probate and Estate Taxes


After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of the Oregon last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, appoint a personal representative to administrate the will, and distribute property as designated in the Oregon last will.  Generally probate is required to transfer any real property owned by the decedent.

Estate Taxes

As of November 2003, Oregon has enacted an inheritance tax law that would in effect require state inheritance taxes even when Federal estate taxes are not due. In the past, the Oregon inheritance tax was tied to the Federal system. The taxes owed on your estate from probate of your Oregon last will are determined using these guidelines.

Intestacy – What happens when you die without a will

It is extremely important to make an Oregon will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died “intestate” and your property will be distributed according to strict Oregon laws.

For example, your spouse will receive the entire estate if you have no surviving parents, siblings, or children. If you leave no surviving spouse, but leave children, then your children will share the estate.

A valid Oregon will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.