In a perfect world, there would be a definite answer to the question of how long does the Oklahoma probate process take; however, we do not live in a perfect world. The answer to this question depends upon the complexity of the probate estate as well as if there may be litigation involved regarding the distribution of assets or the payment of debts. Having an experienced probate attorney representing the personal representative can help make the Oklahoma probate process less stressful on all parties.
What is the Probate Process?
Probate is the judicial process of determining the ownership of assets after a person’s death. The probate process is the legal process in which the deceased individual’s estate is administered. This is the case whether the individual died with a valid will or not. The Oklahoma probate process includes repaying the decedent’s creditors to the extent possible from the assets of the decedent and transferring the decedent’s property to the heirs in accordance with the will or Oklahoma intestate law.
To begin the Oklahoma probate process, the personal representative or other interested party files a will, if the decedent had a will, and a petition to probate with the District Court where the deceased resided at the time of his or her death. The court will schedule a hearing and all heirs and interested parties are notified of the hearing date and time. The court typically appoints the person named in the will as personal representative to serve in that capacity. If there is no will, the court will name a personal representative in accordance with the intestate laws for Oklahoma.
In order to clear title to assets and finalize the decedent’s affairs, probate is necessary. It allows the personal representative to pay the final bills, transfer title to assets, disburse assets according to the will or intestate laws, end any outstanding leases or contracts, file final tax returns and perform any other tasks necessary to finalize the decedent’s estate. For someone who is unfamiliar with the Oklahoma probate process, having an experienced Tulsa probate attorney to help guide them through the process can be invaluable (even if it just removes the stress of making sure everything is done correctly and prior to the deadline).
As part of the Oklahoma probate process, the personal representative will perform certain duties, including but not limited to:
- Take possession of the decedent’s property and inventory the property for the probate court;
- Collect rents, payments or other debts due to the decedent;
- Identify the heirs of the estate;
- Investigate any claims against the estate and either pay the debts or object to the debts;
- Distribute property according to the will or by court order and sign any titles or deeds to transfer property to the rightful heirs;
- Prepare all of the paperwork and documents necessary to administer the estate; and,
- Carry out all orders of the court with regard to the probate of the estate.
So exactly how long does the Oklahoma probate process last?
As stated above, if we lived in a perfect world, the Oklahoma probate process for most estates could be completed in about five months. However, this depends on the personal representative, the court and everyone else involved performing all tasks in a timely manner (and that rarely occurs). In reality, most probate cases take between seven to ten months to complete, provided that there are no complex issues to resolve or litigation to lengthen the process.
The important thing to remember is that the Oklahoma probate process is not overly complicated; however, some estates are more complex than other estates. Each estate is different and the circumstances of each estate dictates how long the probate process will take, how expensive the probate process will be and the level of expertise it will take to complete the necessary documents to administer the estate.
There may be ways that you can shorten the Oklahoma probate process and reduce probate costs; however, these techniques are not available in every case. You should consult with an experienced Oklahoma probate attorney to discuss your legal options with regard to probating your loved one’s estate.
Contact an Experienced Probate Attorney in Tulsa
When you need the services of an experienced probate attorney, call Oklahoma Will & Trust. Tulsa Probate Attorney Earl D. Lawson has the experience and knowledge to assist you with all of your estate planning and probate needs. As a skilled Tulsa probate attorney, Earl D. Lawson knows the advantages of protecting your estate and ensuring that your wishes are followed.
Contact an experienced Tulsa probate attorney today for a free consultation about the best approach to protecting your legacy. Call (918) 876-4500 to schedule your free consultation. We are conveniently located at 201 W. Fifth Street, Suite 404 in Tulsa, OK.