Probate is the court process a will goes through before it is finally distributed to the beneficiaries. As one of the heirs to an estate, you probably want to know how long the whole process lasts. The answer depends on a lot of things, and sometimes, it is not easy to tell.
First, there has to be an executor to kick things into motion. They can either be specified in the will or appointed by the court. The executor is responsible for consolidating all the assets, dealing with any financial obligations such as debts or taxes, and finally, passing the estate to the heirs. It may seem a simple, straightforward process, but it may take some time to close an estate.
The timeline is not fixed
The whole probate process can take a few months or even years to finalize. Multiple heirs, complex assets such as business interests, or misunderstandings between the beneficiaries, which lead to contests, will likely delay the process.
Should you avoid probate?
Yes, or no. What may work for you may not work for another person, which is why it is advisable to make informed decisions when laying out your estate plans. The size of your estate and your end objectives should adequately inform you of the choice to make.
Not having your estate going through the probate process may be in your best interests, especially if you have a sizable estate. For instance, by creating an irrevocable trust, you will not only save on the legal fees involved in the probate process, but you could also end up saving a significant amount of money in estate taxes. In addition, there is a more enhanced element of privacy with trusts than the probate process, which can be subject to public scrutiny.