If you’ve ever been involved in Oregon probate, you know that it can be a long and complicated process. The time needed can vary significantly – a simple case might require a few months, while a more difficult case might drag on for years. This can be frustrating for the people involved.
Here’s a look at why the probate process can take a long time and how you can shorten the amount of time required.
A Time-Consuming Process
Probate is a legal process. After a person dies, probate may be needed to ensure that all debts are paid and that the person’s assets are distributed appropriately.
Several steps are required to accomplish this. Both the assets and debts must be assessed. In some cases, assets will need to be sold to pay debts. Estate taxes must be paid as well. Due to all of these requirements, it may be a while before assets can be distributed and probate can be completed.
Even when everything goes smoothly, this will take some time. When heirs contest the will, it may take much longer.
Speeding Things Up
Although you should not expect probate to be completed overnight, you can take some basic steps to avoid overly lengthy probate processes:
- Create a will and other estate planning documents. Having a solid estate plan is essential.
- Choose your beneficiaries and executors wisely. Problems can arise if these designations are not thought out. For example, the person named as the executor may not wish to serve in this role. Complications can also arise when minors are named as beneficiaries.
- Avoid inconsistencies in your estate planning documents. This may lead to disputes and other problems.
- Keep your estate planning documents up to date. If you’ve gotten married, gotten divorced, purchased a house or made and other significant changes that could impact your estate, you should update your documents accordingly.
- Make your plans known. Discussing your estate plan may not be easy, but it’s an important conversation to have. This may help your family avoid disputes down the line.
- Get your documents in order. This includes both physical and electronic documents. Make sure they can be accessed when the time comes.
- Work with an experienced probate attorney. If you are facing the probate process after a relative has died, consult with an experienced attorney. When you meet with the attorney, it’s helpful to bring relevant documents, including a copy of the death certificate, the original will and a list of assets and debts.