Q: my sister left no will or anything and has 2000 in bank, can i close acct with death certificate?
Not sure how oregon laws work and if probate is always needed when someone really does not own anything and very small funds in bank left
A: Maybe. If your sister had no surviving spouse, adult children or parents then you could sign an Affidavit at the bank pursuant to ORS 708A.430 promising that you will use the money to pay her funeral expenses and any other outstanding bills of hers. There is also a waiting period during which the bank has to hold the money. Contact an experienced probate attorney if you have any problems. You can pay their fee out of the $2,000.
A: Probate is a legal process whereby a court oversees the distribution of assets left by a deceased person. Assets are any property a person owns that is of some value, such as a bank account.
If your sister named you as a co-owner of the account or as the payable on death beneficiary of the account, then the bank account is yours once you present the death certificate and there is no need to go through probate.
If there is no co-owner or beneficiary of the account, then the account can by transferred in one of two ways.
The first way is a small estate probate proceeding. Oregon allows a quick and less expensive procedure for handling small estates that would otherwise require a full probate. If an estate fits into this "small estate" category, the cost and time for distributing the estate assets are greatly reduced. This small estate procedure can be used if the estate’s personal property is valued at no more than $75,000 and any real property is valued at no more than $200,000.
The second way is a transfer on death affidavit. Oregon law provides that a bank may transfer a deceased person's bank account to an heir (surviving spouse, adult child or sibling) if the heir signs an affidavit under oath. Some banks will not allow this type of transfer. You should check with the bank to see if they allow the affidavit to transfer ownership of this small account.
For more information, you should contact an attorney.
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