Here’s a realistic timeline
How long does probate take in Oregon? At a minimum, 5 months, but 6-9 months is a more typical, realistic timeline. Often it can can take longer.
Let’s look at what probate is, and why it takes months—or sometimes even years—to conclude.
What is probate?
The word alone can sound intimidating, but probate doesn’t have to be scary. Is it complicated and convoluted? Yes. That’s why it’s best to work with an experienced Oregon estate planning attorney who can help you navigate this legal process.
When you get down to it, probate is simply how a court oversees the settling of a deceased person’s estate. Proceedings include reviewing a will (if there is one), inventorying assets and liabilities, and ensuring that all property distributed and estate settlement complies with the terms of the will and state law.
What makes Oregon probate take so long?
How long Oregon probate takes depends on various factors, such as:
- Value of any real estate
- Number of heirs
- Whether or not there was a will
- If there is a will, how complete and valid the terms of the will are
- Any disputes or contestations
- Whether the estate is solvent or insolvent
The small estate proceeding
With very few, specific exceptions, all Oregon estates must complete probate.
If the estate’s value of the personal property is less than $75,000, or the value of any real property doesn’t exceed $200,000, the estate can qualify for a streamlined, simpler process called a small estate proceeding. The personal property of the decedent can be worth no more than $75,000. Real property cannot have a value of more than $200,000.
If an estate qualifies for a small estate proceeding, the process can begin no sooner than 30 days after the deceased’s passing.
Once the estate selects a personal representative or executor, file a list of assets within 90 days.
Probate can be filed immediately after a person dies. As part of settling the estate, a personal representative (PR, also known as an executor) will manage matters related to the deceased and their estate. The deceased’s will can name the PR, or as necessary, the court can designate a PR, such as a surviving spouse, adult child, attorney, financial institution, or trust company.
Once the estate or court names the personal representative, though, the estate must file a list of assets with the probate court within 90 days.
Your attorney can take any necessary steps, such as filling a Probate Petition or securing court-required bond. The court will initially review the will to verify its validity.
A notice published in a newspaper of record notifies the public of the probate of the decedent’s estate. This notice provides the opportunities for creditors to present claims against the estate.
After completion of these steps, a four-month waiting period begins.
Expect probate to take at least 5 months
During this five-month period, creditors can come forward with claims on the estate. The estate’s PR sends written notifications to any heirs or other persons named in the will. The PR also works to identify and value all estate assets, then files an inventory with the court.
Five months can be sufficient to settle a small, straightforward estate. The more complex the estate and the requirements to settle it, the longer probate can take.
6-9 months is how long probate typically takes in Oregon
While probate can complete in as little as 5 months, in Oregon this process typically takes 6-9 months.
Once the four-month discovery and notice period is complete, the probate court and PR begin overseeing the settling of the estate. For example, valid creditors receive payment and settlement from out of the estate’s assets. Once all debts are settled, any remaining assets may then be distributed and/or liquidated according to the terms of the will after an accounting.
The PR will prepare an account of property and sends a copy to each person named in the will. This account lists and explains the flow of all money in and out of the estate, and provides necessary details about why various actions were taken. Along with disposing of property, the PR will also prepare any relevant federal or Oregon tax returns, pay taxes due (such as any estate taxes), and file any required income and estate tax returns.
Once the court approves all documents, accounts, and distributions, those matters are settled, and property is distributed. From here, the estate is considered settled, and probate is complete.
Sometimes probate may take longer than 9 months. Here’s why.
While probate can often conclude in less than 9 months, sometimes it takes longer:
- A party might claim in court that the will is invalid, and the claim must be addressed and settled
- The estate is insolvent
- Delays in filing tax returns and/or paying taxes due
- Delays in completing inventory or notifications
- Complex real property or financial matters
- Difficulties such as in arranging for the guardianship of minor children, providing child or spousal support, or settling business interests
Once an estate is considered settled and probate is complete, usually that’s that. Sometimes, however, an estate also needs to be reopened. This typically happens if additional, previously unknown property is discovered, a required act has not been completed, or some other cause proven that requires the estate to be reopened. In circumstances such as these, the aid of an attorney can be essential.
Your Oregon estate planning attorney can ensure that probate is done right
No matter how small or large an estate, your Oregon estate planning attorney is by your side to guide you through every step of probate. Your attorney can advise on potential problems, paperwork, and how to complete steps you need to take as a PR, and much more. (Your attorney can also advise on estate plan assets that can avoid probate altogether, such as POD/TOD assets, and trusts.)
How long does it take to complete probate? Probably longer than you’d like, but it’s manageable. Can probate be intimidating? Yes. But with the right attorney by your side, it doesn’t have to be.