How Long Does Probate Take?

A probate is a legal process of settling the estate of a deceased individual. As you can understand, the entire process includes many necessary steps that allow to move assets from the ownership of someone who passed away. 

Some estates close within a couple of weeks while others take years. This is when inheritance loans can help so that you receive cash immediately while the legal process is being taken care of. Every case is unique, and outcomes always depend on multiple factors. For instance, the supervision of the court can drastically slow things down. If you want to know what else can influence your probate timeline, check out the article below:

federal taxes

The number of beneficiaries

If you are the only beneficiary, the process might take less than a month ( in case there are no other complications such as decedent’s debts). According to experts at Probate Advance, the probate timeline directly depends on the number of estate beneficiaries. The thing is that it takes longer to send multiple documents, wait for a response from every single individual. It gets even more complicated when beneficiaries live far away from each other and the attorney’s office.  

Besides this headache with documents and the distance, there also might be a conflict of interests. Unfortunately, the chance that two or more people will agree on everything at the very beginning of the process is super low. 

Sometimes beneficiaries hire attorneys in order to monitor the process and whine about everything they disagree on. Beneficiaries might find a lot of mistakes or injustice and delay the probate process. 

Is there a will contest?

Usually, the probate process lasts longer in case a will contest occurs. This problem can be solved with a couple of court trials. 

A will contest is the objection that can be raised against the validity of the will. It can be based on one following factor or combination of them:

The will was not signed properly.

The will was written under duress.

The deceased person was incapable of writing the will.

The will doesn’t look valid.

Other complications

When applying for probate, you should take into account the time you are going to spend paying creditors.

Another important thing to know is that the law may vary from state to state. So, some states require beneficiaries to let the creditors know about death by sending an official letter. In some cases, it’s necessary to publish an obituary in the local newspaper.

There are different deadlines for filing creditor claims. In Massachusetts, beneficiaries have the entire year, while in Texas, beneficial should do this within 30 days after death. That’s why you should make sure to learn the state laws. 

A probate process will last as long as the claim is not resolved. The state law may also include some provisions for simplified proceedings. 

A taxable estate

A taxable estate refers to a number of assets that is the subject to estate tax after a person passes away. It can take longer to probate the estate in case it owes estate taxes since a taxable estate is closed only after a beneficiary receives a closing letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The IRS might take their time and send you a letter eight months after you fill an estate tax. On the other hand, not all estates can be the subject to the federal estate tax.

These days, the District of Columbia and 12 other states impose state-level estate taxes which usually delays the process.

No will

You might face some legal problems in case a deceased person didn’t leave a will (it doesn’t really matter whether it was intentionally or unintentionally). 

In this case, the court will be more involved in the entire process. If you have the same situation, the judge will appoint a personal representative ( if the deceased didn’t choose anyone on their own). After that, the state will determine bequests and heirs. 

That’s why it’s always better to have a will that can save a lot of trouble.  

What do you need to do if you are a beneficiary?

To get everything right, you should collect all essential documents such as death certificate, will, recent tax returns, bank and investment statements, etc. Once you organise the set of documents, consider hiring an estate planning attorney who can help you to find the best solution in your particular situation.

An estate planning attorney along with financial advisor and tax advisor can help you to apply for benefits from the retirement plan, employee plan, credit unions, life insurance, etc. Another important thing is to file a tax return for the deceased person.

The bottom line 

A lot of things can influence the probate process. That’s why some people need to wait for years to get the inheritance. It can take just a few weeks if you are the only beneficiary. Make sure to collect all the documents and take the advice from an estate planning attorney. 

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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