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Probate administration takes its own sweet time

For some people in Oklahoma, their only experience with probate happens when someone close to them dies. In those instances, the heirs and benefactors may be shocked to learn how long it takes to complete probate administration, which is the legal procedure for validating a will and distributing its assets. Even a simple estate with few assets and limited heirs may take eight months or more before all aspects of probate are finished. However, there are certain factors that can tie up the process indefinitely.

The most common complication that can slow down probate administration is when the deceased named numerous beneficiaries. Two or three heirs is typical, but each heir must be located and notified, and often there are documents that all beneficiaries must sign. The process may come to a screeching halt if one heir takes his or her time signing and returning pertinent papers. Additionally, if the beneficiaries dislike each other, there is a higher chance that the actions of the personal representative will be challenged or the will contested.

Sometimes the assets themselves can create complications that drag out the probate process. For example, an estate may include items that are difficult to appraise, such as collectibles, patents, rights to oil or minerals, or assets that are not easily liquidated. Additionally, heirs to any estate that has to file a return for estate taxes can expect to wait perhaps an additional 10 months while the IRS gets around to processing the paperwork, providing the personal representative files the forms in a timely manner.

While there may be many factors that are out of the control of the estate's personal representative, having professional assistance is one way an Oklahoma estate executor can manage the things that can be controlled. Since probate administration is a complex and unfamiliar process to most people, the help of an estate planning attorney may prove invaluable. Many find peace of mind in having a legal advocate even during the simplest probate.

Source:, "What Will Hold Up the Probate Process?", Julie Garber, Accessed on Oct. 28, 2017

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