Probate is essentially the settlement process of an estate during which the courts determine what to do with its assets. If you recently lost a loved one and anticipate receiving part of his or her estate, you may wonder how long the probate process takes.
The duration of the probate process varies considerably, ranging from just a few months to a couple of years. Various factors may affect the timeline. SmartAsset explains the factors that may affect the probate timeline.
The existence of a will
The presence or absence of a will can drastically affect the duration of the probate process. If a will is present, there is typically little question of who gets what, as the courts can use the document as a guide when divvying up assets. If a will is not present, however, the courts and estate executor must first locate assets and heirs and then determine how to distribute assets, all of which can take considerably longer than simply following a decedent’s instructions.
The size of the estate
The size of an estate is another factor that majorly influences the duration of probate. Naturally, larger estates require more time to settle than smaller ones, as every asset within the estate requires processing and paperwork.
Fighting among heirs
Another factor that could complicate and, therefore, elongate the probate process is fighting among heirs. Even the most minor of conflicts regarding the distribution of assets could delay the process by weeks or even months. Large conflicts can add even more time.
Probate is a lengthy and complicated process in and of itself. Though several factors may delay the process, a few can help speed it up, such as the assistance of a professional.