Probate means proof; it is how we determine whether a decedent’s Will is legally valid and enforceable. The process has a reputation for lasting a long time, but this may not always be the case. Many factors can play into how long probate actually takes. Some estates may settle within a few months, but others may take a year or more.
There are many steps in the probate process, and all of them are necessary for moving the assets from the ownership of a deceased individual into the ownership of one of their living beneficiaries. Taxes and outstanding debts must also be paid before this can happen. The process can be extremely slow when there are complications.
Probate will take longer the more beneficiaries there are. If they live far from the probate court, it could take longer to complete. Sending documents back and forth between multiple people located in various places can be tedious.
It’s worth noting that two beneficiaries may not agree on absolutely everything that must happen with an estate, let alone three, four, or more. Some beneficiaries also end up hiring their own attorneys to monitor the process, and these attorneys may criticize every single thing the executor does, making the process take even longer.
Probate will be open for a long time if there is a Will contest. Issues will only usually be resolved after a long court trial.
Then, there’s the possibility that the deceased did not have a Will. The estate must still be probated in this case, and the court will be heavily involved in the process. It will be up to the judge to appoint an executor because the deceased did not do so. State law will then determine which heirs will receive bequests from the estate and in what percentages. Steps that would have usually been simple will take much longer if there is no Will.
Probate can take much longer depending on the state, too. Probate in Colorado can be a lengthy and costly process. If beneficiaries do not receive proper guidance, a dispute could arise among heirs and cause the probate process to take years. Common reasons probate can take a while include; waiting on a notice to creditors, resolving disputes among beneficiaries and creditors, completing an inventory, and delays that come with the court system.