When someone passes away and you need to manage the affairs of their estate, it helps to have an Oregon estate checklist. From probate court to making public notice to creditors, ordering death certificates to canceling streaming services, those first weeks after someone passes away are full of tasks big and small.
In the first 24 hours
During that first 24 hours, crucial matters on an Oregon estate checklist require your attention, such as:
- A medical professional needs to provide a legal death pronouncement.
- Carry out instructions on what was to happen with their remains, such as cremation, a funeral, home, service, burial, etc.
- If the deceased had minor children, ensure they are in safe care and that guardianship provisions are fulfilled or underway
- See if a neighbor, relative, or friend can keep an eye out on the deceased’s residence, such as tending to pets or plants, taking in mail, or emptying the fridge
- Send word to family, close friends, and anyone else the deceased would have wanted to be immediately notified of their passing
- Secure property: Lock up real estate and vehicles
- Notify any employers
This won’t be an easy time, but others may be able to help. Religious groups, veteran’s groups, or other business and community organizations the deceased belonged to may be able to provide support and instruction.
Documents to gather
Here’s a high-level look at some of the tasks that need to be part of your Oregon estate checklist. And when you’re ready for help, the right estate planning attorney is standing by. You’ll need to gather crucial documents, such as:
- Will, trust, and other estate documents
- Create a list of addresses of addresses for beneficiaries of the Will and heirs of the decedent
- Beneficiaries and procedures for life insurance policies
- Vehicle titles for all boats, trailers, RVs, automobiles, and/or other titled vehicle property
- Deeds to prove/verify ownership of real estate (often available from county records)
- Financial and investment assets, such as checking, savings, stocks, and bonds
- Access to any safe deposit box
- Other insurance policies, such as auto, home, or healthcare
- Details for any public or private pension (such as PERS)
- Unpaid bills
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Cancel utilities, cell phone plans, and other life services
What about death certificates?
Death certificates provide proof of death to institutions, companies, creditors, and other entities.
Typically the funeral home can order death certificates for you (and often they can also submit a form reporting the death to the Social Security Administration). Talk with your funeral home contact for the deceased to verify, and also to discuss how many death certificates to order. If you need to do your own ordering of death certificates, you can order them from the decedent’s county’s vital statistics office.
For example, in Lane County you could order death certificates from Lane County Vital Records, up until 6 months after the date of death. After 6 months, you would then contact Oregon State Vital Records.
Long-form and short-form death certificates are available. A requesting agency may tell you which type they need, but this guide can also help you figure that out in advance. A common rule of thumb is 6–10 death certificates.
Accounts, services, subscriptions, and other considerations
Life is complicated, and an Oregon estate checklist includes many details big and small to tend to. Here are some other services and organizations you may need to notify or send notice of service cancellations:
- Forwarding mail, such as to the attorney representing the estate
- Many records and files for all financial transactions related to the estate
- Make a list/inventory of all assets related to the estate
- Subscriptions, such as periodicals, online apps, streaming services, and more
- Banks, investment firms, credit card providers, and other relevant financial institutions
- Contact the DMV to cancel the deceased’s driver’s license
- Inform the credit reporting agencies TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax
- Tax returns and payments
- Social media: Delete/close accounts, or follow the company’s process for “memorializing” the account
- Close/disable email accounts
If the deceased worked with an attorney, tax professional, accountant, and/or financial advisor, they also need to be in the loop on the deceased’s affairs.
For estate assets and financial transactions, do nothing without a court or attorney’s permission
Estates can be complicated, and dealing with the estate’s assets has to follow specific processes.
While it can seem like it’s okay to start passing on personal effects, settling debts, or paying out monies bequeathed in the deceased’s will, those things all have to wait their turn. Your best source for when it is okay to move forward with property disbursements or financial transactions is the estate attorney and the judge overseeing probate.
Not every estate passes through probate, though those particulars all depend on the structure of the estate. For more on the process an estate might pass through, check out:
- How long does probate take in Oregon? Here’s a realistic timeline
- Will executor duties in Oregon: What to do (and not to do) as an estate personal representative
- What to do when a loved one dies in Oregon: The legal side
Your number one thing to do? Follow your estate attorney’s advice
Grief and loss are hard enough. But dealing with the logistics and particulars of a deceased’s estate is stressful. While there are many tasks to tend to, your estate attorney is also there to help and advise. Not following the attorney’s instructions can land you in hot water with the court and the beneficiaries.