If you have a loved one who recently died, you probably do not want probate to last longer than necessary. The time period of closing an estate can vary. Sometimes probate drags out for months or even over a year.
By understanding different factors that affect the length of probate, you might understand what to expect in any probate situation.
Lack of a will
Writing a will allows a person to address many estate decisions in advance. Without a will, the probate court will have to step in. Leaving more decisions to the court creates additional time needed for probate.
The estate has a house
Many people die still owning a home. If the house does not pass to an heir, the executor could sell it to pay estate debts or to create proceeds for beneficiaries. To do so, the executor must hire a real estate agent, make the house ready for sale, and complete the sale. All these steps may delay probate.
A complex estate
An estate with complex investments or a large number of assets can take longer to process. This is because an executor needs additional time to take inventory of all assets and secure them. Also, an executor needs to accurately valuate the assets and might require additional time to distribute them.
Debts of the estate
If a decedent owed a lot of money, creditors are likely to make claims against the estate. Probate allows creditors to settle their unpaid debts. However, an executor can dispute the claims, which may lead to legal contests with creditors that delay the final closing of the estate.
Knowing how long probate can last may help you understand how to plan for your estate in advance so your loved ones have fewer steps to worry about when resolving your estate.