Probate is a dreaded process for many, full of uncertainty. Most people haven’t heard of probate prior to losing a loved one. It is a process that nearly every estate must pass through (with exceptions, of course). Many people find themselves wondering, how long does probate take? To answer this question, you need to understand how the process works.
What is Probate and How Long Does Probate Take?
Probate is the legal process that validates the legality of a will. In this process, a judge determines the validity of a will and declares it legal or invalid. How long does probate take? This process can last from six months up to two years. However, some probate cases have been known to drag on for years. While most probate proceedings are not as time-consuming, cases with high-assets, missing financial information, or cases that do not have a will tend to be significantly lengthier. It is highly recommended to hire an attorney to assist you with expediting the process and protecting the decedent’s assets.
Typically when a will is included, the cases are on the shorter side, however, if the judge believes that part of the will is invalid, the process will be much more extensive.
What Happens During Probate?
The first step is to establish an estate representative to represent the beneficiaries during the court proceedings. An estate representative is typically the executor of the will if a will exists, or it can be another person that is close to the deceased person.
During the legal process, personal representatives of the probate court will collect all assets and pertaining information, and provide the court with a basic catalog of the assets and determined worth.
Next, the beneficiaries of the inheritance are determined, based on either the will or their relationship to the deceased person. After the beneficiaries are determined, the representatives determine how and when the funds should be distributed. If there is a valid will, then this would be per the directions of the will and the reality of meeting logistical demands.
Finally, the beneficiaries examine the document describing the distribution of assets and determine if they approve the process, or raise any objections if need be. Once this step is complete, the court approves the estate distribution process and the assets pass probate.
Does My Estate Have to Pass Probate?
Some people chose to allow their loved ones to bypass the probate process by passing their inheritance through a revocable living trust instead of a last will. Revocable living trusts designate assets to a trustee, who is then responsible for distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. This allows the transference of assets without a lengthy process.. It is typically advisable to create a revocable living trust if you own real property and want to avoid the costly delay in the process.
While revocable living trusts are the most common alternative, other strategies include asking a qualified lawyer to create joint ownership of property or gifts, or pay-on-death accounts and registrations.
Understanding How an Attorney Can Help You
If you are uncertain and need to know how long does probate take in regards to your case, it is highly recommended to discuss your options with a qualified probate attorney. Call our office today to set up a free 30-minute consultation with LPEP. Our reputable law firm in the Bay Area specializes in high-net-worth estate planning. Our large team represents some of the best talents in the San Jose and Santa Clara areas, providing you with the necessary resources to protect your assets and work through the process. Set up a free 30 minute consultation here. (Virtual options available)