As a beneficiary of an estate, you could be wondering how long the probate process will last. However, there is no definite answer to your question. A lot happens before an estate is distributed to the beneficiaries, and hiccups at any step can lengthen the time it takes to conclude matters.
You may be looking at a few months or even years before everything is finalized. Here is what you need to know.
Key determinants of the time it will take
Probate is a court-controlled process where things can move excruciatingly slowly. That said, the unique facts of the proceeding will determine how long it will take. Some of the instances that may lengthen the process include:
- Fighting beneficiaries who do not get along
- Litigation such as will contests or other related legal actions
- Complex assets like patents or oil and mineral rights
- Delays by the executor, among others
Personal representatives may be answerable to creditors if they distribute the estate to beneficiaries too soon. They must allow anyone with a claim on the estate a certain amount of time as dictated by state law to speak up. Income tax returns for the deceased have to be filed, too, which could further extend the timelines.
Avoid unnecessary delays
It is advisable to make yourself aware of how the entire process works and what you should expect along the way. That way, you will be better prepared to navigate through unexpected challenges while, at the same time, safeguarding your interests.
Similarly, if you are making your estate plans and would like to avoid probate, you should learn more about the various options at your disposal that will help you achieve similar results.