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Using a Small Estate Affidavit as a substitute to Letters of Testamentary at a bank to open an estate account.

Hillsboro, OR |

Since my mother passed away with a small estate, I filed an Affidavit of Claiming Successor of Small Estate. I got an EIN and brought that with the certified affidavit, as well as the death certificate to 2 banks now, and neither will open an estate account for me (my mom). They both claim that I need to bring a Letters of Testamentary (or Letters of Administration) before they will open an account. I don't want to go through probate just to get a letter, but I'm not sure what else I can provide to show that I can open this account. Is there anything in Oregon law that states this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I appreciate all the answers. I have what Oregon considers the correct documents (EIN, Death certificate, and the small estate affidavit signed by the court), so I'm now calling banks to see if they will accept this affidavit in lieu of letters of testamentary. I need this estate account to disburse funds, pay bills, and submit any other checks made out in my mom's name. This is just so hard.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. If the estate is small enough to be processed by affidavit, you don't need to open an estate account or obtain letters. It's one or the other.

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.


  2. You certainly can and should get a tax ID (EIN) for a small estate account.

    Are the banks and accounts in Oregon? If so they should (although won't necessarily) accept the small estate affidavit. If they're not in Oregon, you (or your attorney) might need to educate them a bit on Oregon law, and even then sometimes banks are too stubborn to do what they're supposed to, in which case you have to weigh the costs of probate against the value of the account to be administered. If it's a $120 checking account, you might chose to leave it alone. If it's $70,000, you might just have to jump through the bank's hoops.

    Licensed in Oregon. Advice provided is general legal information relevant to the facts provided. It is not intended as legal advice applicable to your specific situation. No attorney/client relationship is created unless and until we have met and entered into a written representation agreement. Contact me at 541-250-0542 to discuss your matter further. www.MaugerLaw.com


  3. Unfortunately banks are extremely picky. Keep checking with different banks to see if any will open an account for you. I doubt it. Give me a call to discuss whether it is worth your while to open a regular probate.

    Be sure to designate "best answer." If you live in Oregon, you may call me for more detailed advice, 503-650-9662. Please be aware that each answer on this website is based upon the facts, or lack thereof, provided in the question. To be sure you get complete and comprehensive answers, based upon the totality of your situation, contact a local attorney who specializes in the area of law that involves your legal problem. Diane L. Gruber has been practicing law in Oregon for 26 years, specializing in family law, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate. Note: Diane L. Gruber does not represent you until a written fee agreement has been signed by you and Diane L. Gruber, and the fee listed in the agreement has been paid.


  4. I agree with Attorney Reed. A small estate affidavit is a substitute for a probate proceeding. You cannot open an "estate account," without having an estate. If you have an estate, you need to go to probate. You should not have an EIN for the estate, because there IS no estate. The small estate affidavit allows you to process the checks and cash or deposit them. YOU would then pay the bills, personally, from the funds that you have received. You have apparently gotten this far without an attorney. The bank is responding to you out of confusion because you are not handling this correctly. You have an either or situation and you are trying to tell the bank to do BOTH.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

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