Probate has this reputation of taking a long time, but the duration generally depends on a number of factors. While some estates close or settle within just a few months’ time or even in weeks, there are others that can take several years to close.
The entire procedure involves several steps, and all of them are important for moving assets from the deceased’s ownership to a living heir or beneficiary. The outstanding debts and the taxes of the decedent should be paid before this happens.
All the major steps take place under the court’s supervision resulting in the further slowing down of things. And yes, the process can even stall completely for some time if there are certain complexities.
How Long Does Probate Take with Will and without One?
The probate procedure gets faster if there is a will left behind by the decedent. This is because the will clearly state what assets are included in the estate and which beneficiary should get what. This helps in saving several weeks of data-gathering time.
Nevertheless, the presence of an estate-will can even make the procedure longer. That’s because it gets important to meet stipulations and establish trust in that case. Not to forget, the process gets even longer if the estate-will is contested by the beneficiaries or the parties involved.
There are various other factors that can either speed up or drag on the probate procedure. The major influencers are as follows:
One of the biggest reasons why there is no definite answer to how long a probate procedure can take is because the process is not regulated nationally. This clearly means that the rules governing the process can vary from one state to another.
There are some places where the procedure can be completed within a week’s time owing to minimal court oversights and simplified proceedings. Nevertheless, there are state laws that can delay the process by about a year or even two.
Luckily, many states in the USA are taking measures to simplify and refine the process. Coming up with different steps for streamlining the procedure can actually shorten its timeline. But it gets difficult to streamline different things if the estate features assets in several areas or states.
For example, if the major part of the deceased’s assets is in Texas with properties in Florida as well, it becomes important to open a primary proceeding in Texas and the second proceeding in Florida. Thus, the time taken to complete the entire settlement becomes longer.
Hence, one can rightly say that state laws have an important role to play in determining the duration of Probate. However, they are not the only factors determining the length of the process.
The Size of the Estate
This is yet another important factor that plays a significant role in determining the length of the process. More assets within the estate of the deceased mean more decisions and more paperwork as well. This will automatically take a lot of time.
But it is not that the size of the estate assets always matters. The laws in some states have their focus on the overall estate value. Unfortunately, it is not easy to figure out the worth of the decedent’s estate as per state laws because it all depends on the asset types involved.
There are both Probate and non-probate assets involved in making up an estate. But the good news is that some states allow individuals to shorten or forgo the probating procedure for the properties with low value.
Conflicts among Beneficiaries and Heirs
This is one of the most common reasons behind the delay faced by the parties involved in the procedure. The larger the number of beneficiaries and heirs, the more time it will take to complete the process.
Even the proceedings of the low-value properties and estates can bog down if there are several beneficiaries involved. The procedure takes longer if there are disagreements regarding how the entire estate should be distributed.
The most evident dispute that the beneficiaries have is in times when different concerned parties contest the decedent’s will. Nevertheless, if the disagreements are not that massive, lawyers can tackle them easily. Thus, the process will end quickly.
Probate – Conclusion
Whether or not it will take time to complete the probate process will depend on the services you get from your lawyer. This is where it becomes necessary to consider the services of a knowledgeable and experienced professional.
The experts with good knowledge of the process can make things easier and faster for their clients.