As you wonder how long the probate process will take, there are many details to consider. It is important to realize that this process can and will change from case to case, based on the details of the situation.
There is no right or wrong answer to the question of how long probate takes. Instead, here are some of the details that will determine the answer:
1. Where does the executor of the will live? If this person lives in close proximity to the lawyer handling the estate, most of the details can be worked out in a timely manner. On the other hand, if the two parties live in different states, for example, the process has a tendency to drag on due to communication difficulties.
2. How many beneficiaries are named in the will? As a general rule of thumb, the more beneficiaries there are the longer probate will take. This is particularly true if one or more of these people live out of the area.
3. Beneficiaries do not always agree on everything. If there is only one beneficiary this is never a concern. If there are two or more it is unlikely that everybody will agree. Making things even more confusing is the fact that some beneficiaries may decide to hire their own attorney to ensure that they “get what is due to them.”
In short, the more disagreements there are the more time the probate process will take.
4. A will contest is time consuming. In short, this is a legal proceeding in which one party attempts to invalidate the will in question. It is not uncommon for a will contest to lead to the probate process taking a year or longer to reach completion.
5. Taxable estates take longer to probate. There is no way around this. If the estate is taxable, it will most likely take longer to probate than one that is nontaxable. The reason for this is simple: the probate process cannot come to an end until a closing letter is received from the state taxing authority and/or IRS stating that everything is in order.
Those who are fortunate during this difficult time in their life find that the probate process will only take a couple of months to complete. On the contrary, it is not out of the question for probate to take a year or longer to reach its conclusion.
If you need assistance navigating the landmines of the probate process, contact an experienced and knowledgeable probate attorney as soon as possible.