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How Long Do You Have to Probate a Will?

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Whereas a lot of people think of executing a will, they may think only of allocating inherited assets to beneficiaries. Nevertheless, there are, in reality, several steps to the probate process that the executor needs complete prior to allocating any assets. Being a beneficiary, it’s natural to question how long it’s going to take prior to the process ending and you receiving any inheritance heading your way.

Regrettably, each estate is different, meaning timelines can vary. Simple estates with just a couple of, easy-to-find assets could be completed in 6 to 8 months. A more complicated affair might take three or more years to fully conclude.

There are some timelines dictated into state code for some portions of the probate process, and these may pressure the executor of the estate to complete specific steps by a certain date. We’ll go over some of these regulations in this post. Nevertheless, these time limits are far from unchanging, so it’s critical to familiarize yourself on how your state and possibly your county manage things.

Filing the Will for Probate

Presenting the deceased’s will to the correct probate court is the initial step in any probate procedure. Completing this and getting the court’s approval is what enables the executor to behave as executor to begin with. How long does the executor have to present the will following the deceased passing away? Like just almost every step in the process, the answer differs from state to state.

Many states, such as Oregon and Florida for example, have no specified time limit for an executor to present the will. Other states like Texas, have a four year window after passing to start the probate process.

Having said that, the executor’s fiduciary obligation is to the estate, and consequently the estate’s beneficiaries, prevent them from just sitting on the will devoid of good reason. The estate will continue to amass expenses such as property taxes nevertheless of if or not anyone has filed the will, so it’s usually always in the best interest of the estate to get the probate process started sooner instead of later. When you are a beneficiary and the executor designated in the will had no intention to file the will or begin the probate process, you likely have an dispute that they are in violation of their fiduciary duty towards the estate.

Inventory

One of the first portions of the probate process is carrying out an inventory of the estate’s assets. Following an executor receiving authority from the probate court, they are in charge of gathering all the assets from the estate and giving each a value. This is required to establish multiple things. One is if the estate is going to be subjected to estate taxes. Another is when the estate is going to stay solvent – meaning, in the event the estate’s assets surpass its debts.

A lot of states will have a deadline for a primary inventory dictated into state code. Both Maryland and Texas, for instance, necessitate executors to carry out an inventory inside of 3 months of the deceased’s passing away. Other states leave it to probate courts to evaluate on a case by case basis. When you’re the executor of a complicated estate, make sure to find out whether there are any state or county laws in regard to the timeline for carrying out the inventory.

Settling Debts and Taxes

The amount of debt related with an estate is possibly the variable that could have the largest influence on how long the probate process is going to take. This is partially since creditors against the estate require time to discover the process and make any claims towards the estate.

Many states have a required window of time to permit creditors to file claims. Illinois, for instance, requires executors to allow for 6 months. California has a requirement of a bit less, with 4 months. On another note, Massachusetts enables a whole year for creditors to file claims.

The tax load that your estate will have is another element that may prolong the probate. This is especially true when you must deal with estate taxes. When the estate holds real estate in several states, you might have to undergo separate probate processes, which might or might not delay the allocation of assets.

In Conclusion

There are many factors that could impact the length of the probate process. When the estate is small and has an acceptable amount of debt, 6 to 8 months is a decent expectation. With larger estates, it will possibly be more than a year prior to everything settling. This is particularly true if there is a ton of debt or real estate in different states.

When you’re a beneficiary and you’re interested in how long the probate process will take, the best thing to do is to speak with the executor. The executor can provide you with an idea of how complicated the estate is and consequently how long the probate process will be. If you think that the executor is taking too much time, you could examine any orders that the state or probate court has placed on the process. State laws necessitating long windows of time for creditors to make their claims might lengthen the process. At the same time, there could be laws that require the executor to act faster in settling the estate.

Source:

  1. Hunter Kuffel, C. (2019, March 13). How Long Does An Executor Have To Distribute a Will? Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://smartasset.com/estate-planning/how-long-does-executor-have-to-distribute-will

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