How long is probate?

It depends.

Multiple factors, including the complexity of the estate’s property and debts, the validity of your loved one’s estate plan documents, and the corresponding probate strategy (among many other factors) will influence the efficiency of the probate process.

The ideal scenario occurs when (1) your loved one left a valid Will, (2) your loved one left straightforward property, and (3) when your family gets along well. Most importantly, the faster you provide your attorney with the requested information, the sooner the necessary documents can be prepared and filed. This initiates the process.

After filing the necessary documents with the court, a ten day waiting period is necessary during which notices of the probate must be posted for potentially-interested parties. After the waiting period has passed, a hearing will be scheduled with the court. Depending on the court’s availability, a hearing is typically scheduled within four to six weeks. Therefore, ideally, a probate can be completed within less than two months.

Many estates take a longer, though, for a variety of reasons.

After the passing of a loved one, many people are quite busy managing a variety of personal affairs. As a result, by choice, it sometimes takes them a bit longer to provide their attorney with the information necessary to proceed.

Other estates may not have estate plan documents (such as a Will) in place, which adds other layers of complexity. Without estate plan documents, unique heirship issues as well as specific estate administration issues must be resolved. This might requires preparation of additional legal documents, testimony, or hearings.

The worst case scenario arises when your loved one left no estate plan documents and when your family is contentious and litigious. If your family members fight over the estate’s assets, they could theoretically do so for years. Fortunately, most families are reasonable enough that they choose to not squander their own inheritance on court costs and attorneys fees.

In summary, if your loved one left a valid Will and straightforward property, if you quickly provide your attorney with the necessary information, and if your family gets along, you can finish everything and successfully transfer your loved one’s property to your family surprisingly quickly.

As a personal note:  No matter what situation your family finds itself in, do take comfort in the fact that we are absolutely committed to safely and securely transferring your loved one’s property to your family as efficiently as possible.