Understanding Probate: The Process, Timeframe, and Why You Need It

Monday, July 11, 2022

Losing a loved one is one of the most stressful life events we experience. To make things more stressful and complicated, their estate must settle and go through the probate process in most states.

This process is often long and complicated and can keep you from properly grieving your loved one and moving on with your life. To help you navigate this process, an experienced estate attorney can walk you through each step and help you understand what to expect at each step.

Read on to learn more.

What Is the Probate Process?

"Probate" refers to verifying and reviewing your will and approving your named executor to oversee the distribution of your assets. It often takes so long because the courts want to ensure that the executor of your will does not make poor decisions that could be clouded by grief.

The probate process also ensures that there is plenty of time for any financial transactions to be completed before the estate is dissolved and for any beneficiaries or creditors to be notified.

During probate, all of the deceased person's assets will be gathered, and then any debts are paid, including relevant taxes. The probate process could also include selling the property if that's part of the estate.

The Probate Process With a Will

The answer to how long the probate process takes is not clear cut and depends on the circumstances, including state laws, how backed up the courts are, and how complicated the estate is.

If the deceased person has a will, the process will generally be faster than if they did not. The first step of the process is filing a petition for probate. Once this is filed, you will be assigned a court date; that could be a few weeks or months in the future, depending on your state.

At your first court hearing, the judge will name you the official executor of the will. Only then can you move forward with contacting creditors and paying off debts.

Once all of the debts are paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to those indicated in the will. If there is no will, the executor must follow state intestacy statutes.

The probate process can take as little as a few months to as much as a few years. It all depends on whether there is a will or not, whether it is contested, the amount of time it takes to liquidate assets and pay creditors, and how the remaining assets are divided.

If you are beginning the probate process, the best thing to do is be patient and prepare for the long haul.

An Estate Lawyer Can Handle the Probate Court Process for You

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming, the good news is that you don't have to handle it all on your own. An experienced estate lawyer will help walk you through the process, handle contacting creditors, pay the debts, and then distribute the assets. They can make the process much more manageable for you.

If you are in need of an estate lawyer, contact us at Monastra & Grater. We specialize in estate law and can help with all of your estate needs.

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