After someone dies, their estate typically must go through the probate process. However, many people are not aware of how time-consuming and extensive this process can be. The court-supervised process can be expensive and drawn out. It’s important to have a relatively thorough understanding of this process, so you and your loved ones know what to expect during estate administration for friends or family.
The probate process varies state by state, but the procedures are generally the same and follow a similar timeline.
What Happens During Probate?
Probate has several steps of varying lengths and complexities. In general, it starts with a petition for probate and ends with the final distribution of assets, but the steps in between can vary in length and procedure. Among these steps include:
- Validating will
- Identifying and notifying heirs and relatives
- Court hearings
- Issuing documents
- Notifying creditors and Department of Health Services
- Estate inventory and appraisal
- Paying bills, taxes and debts
- Tax clearance
- Hearings and petitions
As you can see, probate often involves many steps, each with its own procedures and timeline. The process can be quite complicated and time-consuming for loved ones in most cases.
How Long Does It Take?
Due to the many steps involved in the probate process, the length of time required to complete the entire process is usually up to 24 months. However, this depends on the circumstances and in cases of contests in the estate, the process can last several more years.
The cost and length of probate causes many people to seek different estate planning alternatives to avoid it, but understanding it is the first step.