Probate has a reputation for lasting, well, FOREVER! But, is this always the case? The answer is that each estate is different and the length of time it takes to probate an estate depends on several factors. Some estates settle or close within a few weeks or a few months, while others can take a year or longer. So, what are some of the factors that determine the amount of time it takes to probate an estate?
- Did the deceased have a Will?
- Did the deceased appoint a personal representative?
- Does the personal representative reside in the same state as the deceased?
- Did the deceased provide a list of beneficiaries and are the beneficiaries still living?
- Do the beneficiaries agree as to the terms listed in the Will?
- Were potential beneficiaries left out of the Will?
- Will someone contest the terms of the Will?
- Is the estate taxable?
- What type of assets are included in the estate?
If the personal representative and the beneficiaries get along, the assets are not complicated, and the estate is not taxable, the probate process could take just a couple of months. However, if the deceased did not have a Will appointing a personal representative, listing beneficiaries and specific designations of property and any other assets, the process will take much longer. Probably the biggest factor is the relationship between the beneficiaries and personal representative – if they do not see eye-to-eye and cannot reach a resolution, it will be necessary to involve the probate court to make a determination. It will also be an expensive process.
The best way to avoid a lengthy probate process is to have your estate documents in order for your loved ones. A well-drafted Will can save your family time and heartache during the probate process. Do not let a failure to have an estate plan create a rift in your family.
If you have any questions about this blog, or wish to start the estate planning process, please contact Anne McMichael (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jill Curry (email@example.com) via email or telephone (303-572-4200) today.