Going Through Probate 

If you stand to inherit property from a deceased loved one’s estate, you may wonder how long the probate process will take. The answer depends on a number of factors, as the probate process not only varies by state law but also, different requirements and procedures may apply to individual cases. That said, FindLaw provides a brief overview of what you can probably expect during probate. 

Individual factors affect the length of the probate process. Factors that significantly affect the duration of the process include the size of the estate, the amount of debt the estate has, taxes, the number of heirs and any will contests. Without any will contests, the probate process usually takes up to two years to complete. However, if an heir disputes the will, the process can take far longer. Some contested cases can take years, if not decades, to resolve. 

Probate timeline overview  

The probate process involves several steps, beginning with the initial filing of the petition for probate and ending with the final distribution of estate funds. Between those steps, there are as many as 15 additional steps. 

Though filing may seem like the most straightforward aspect of the probate process, it actually takes between one and four months to complete. To file for probate, you must file the petition, prove the validity of the will, choose an estate executor, administrator or representative, and identify all heirs. Once the court accepts your petition, it will hold a hearing. The wait for the hearing can take another three to four months. 

Between months three and 12, you will also need to issue certain documentation and notices. For instance, you will have to issue notices to creditors and give them time to respond. If the decedent received medical benefits before passing, you will also have to issue a notice to the Department of Health Services. 

Other steps you will have to take before the courts can finalize the probate process include paying any outstanding bills and taxes, accepting or deny creditors’ claims and petitioning for final distribution and accounting. The distribution of assets typically occurs between months nine and 18. The final distribution of estate funds, which is also the final step of the process, occurs between months nine and 24. 

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