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A Timeline of the Probate Process

Probate is the legal process of formally recognizing a will after a person dies, naming or validating an executor to administer the estate, and distributing assets to intended beneficiaries. It also requires paying the decedent’s outstanding debts and federal and state taxes.

Each state has different laws determining whether probate is necessary. Sometimes it is possible to expedite the process. The probate experience is unique, as no two wills are the same.

In general, the timeline of the probate procedure moves quickly if the estate has minimal assets and little debt. Larger estates can expect a process lasting anywhere from nine months to a few years. Keep in mind that the process may be lengthier if problematic family dynamics are at play.

During a time of grief, you may find that having a general probate timeline is of value as well. This can help manage your expectations and the various deadlines as you move through the process. In brief, following is an overview of the process.

  1. Prepare and File the Probate Petition (1-4 months)
  2. Provide Notice to Creditors (3-6 months)
  3. Payment of Debts and Fees (6-12 months)
  4. Asset Inventory (6-12 months)
  5. Asset Distribution (9-18 months)
  6. The Estate Closing (9-24 months)

For more on the process, read Probate Process: A General Timeline. If you have questions about the probate process or would like more information on how to lessen the probate process, give us a call at (605) 275-5665.