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Heir and Beneficiary Information
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The Department of State Lands (DSL) Estates Program administers only estates of persons who have died without a valid will and for whom heirs cannot be found during the estate probate process.
 
If you are a deceased person’s spouse, child, grandchild, great-grandchild, (whether natural or legally adopted), parent, brother or sister, niece or nephew of whatever degree, grandparent, or descendant of a mutual grandparent of the deceased person, you may be considered an heir under Oregon law, and you may be entitled to a portion of the estate if the person died without leaving a valid will (intestate).
 
Further, if the deceased person died leaving a valid will (testate) and named you as a beneficiary in the will, regardless of your relationship to the deceased, you may be entitled to a portion of the estate or a designated item from it, depending on the provisions of the will.
 
In either of these cases, the estate would not normally be administered by DSL. It is your responsibility, as the heir or beneficiary under the will, to take the necessary actions.
 
The legal process to properly settle debts, have your rights of inheritance recognized, and close the estate in both of these cases is called "probate.”  Probate can be a very complicated process, not easily handled by a person unfamiliar with it.  Sometimes, however, depending on the nature and value of the assets of an estate, formal probate is not necessary. 
 
Questions regarding probate should be directed to your legal professional. 
 
Click here for additional information from the Oregon State Bar: http://www.osbar.org/public/legalinfo/1117_Probate.htm