Probate is a common process that many estates need to go through, but for anyone who has never encountered it before, it can be confusing. If you’re dealing with probate for the first time, you probably have many basic questions about what probate is and how long it takes.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that a person’s estate may have to go through after the person dies. During probate, a court oversees the payment of debts and the distribution of assets.

Probate is often necessary to transfer property that is in the deceased’s name to the beneficiaries. Titled property, stocks and bonds often need to go through probate. Probate can occur whether a person dies without a will (intestate) or with a will (testate).

A personal representative, also called the executor of the estate, will gather the assets and determine what debts, if any, need to be paid. The personal representative may be named in the will, but a person who is named as a personal representative has the right to reject the duty. The court will appoint a personal representative if needed. A financial institution can also serve as the executor of the estate.

How Long Does Probate Take?

Probate is not a fast process. Expect it to take at least a few months. In some cases, especially when there are complications or disputes, it may take longer.

The personal representative will need to gather the assets and determine the debts that need to be paid. This requires time, especially since some of the assets and debts may not be known to the personal representative. Importantly, creditors must be given sufficient time to make a claim.

During probate, the personal representative will publish a notice to creditors in the local newspaper. This gives unknown creditors an opportunity to submit their claim before the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs. In Oregon, creditors have four months to bring a claim against the estate.

Once the debts are known, they must be paid. Only once this is done can the remaining assets be distributed to the beneficiaries. If the will is contested, the process may take longer.

Need Help?

Probate is an important process, and it must be done properly to ensure that all state laws are followed. The team as Skinner Law is experienced in estate and probate law can help guide you through the process. Contact us to learn more.

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