During the probate process, the executor or personal representative of a deceased individual will work with the probate court to take an inventory of all the property, pay off all creditors, and then allocate the rest of the estate to the heirs or beneficiaries.
The estate should be distributed based on terms set out in the valid will of the deceased estate owner. In the event that the estate owner passed away without a valid will, the estate will then be distributed based on the intestacy state laws. But how long does this entire process take?
To answer this, take a look at what happens during probate below.
Opening The Probate Process
Opening a probate cases involves filing the deceased estate owner’s death certificate, probate petition, and valid will with the state’s probate court where the estate owner resided. The probate court will then review the documents and schedule a hearing to select an executor if the will didn’t name a specific person to be the executor.
The executor will then work with the probate court or a trusted Denver probate lawyer to wrap up or settle the entire estate. The first task of the executor is to inform the beneficiaries and creditors of the probate case. Depending on state rules, this might require publishing a notice in the local paper or calling relevant individuals.
Conducting the Inventory
After notifying all relevant individuals, the executor should then take stock of all the property left in the deceased person’s estate, which includes money owed to or by the estate owner. Next, the executor should have a non-monetary property appraised to establish their worth, list down the inventory items, and then file the list with the court.
Take note that probate might exclude certain property such as those that are passed on through transfer on death deeds or living trusts.
Paying Off Creditors
After completing the inventory process, the executor must then pay off debts that the estate owes, including legitimate claims of creditors and administrative taxes, using assets from the estate. Next, the executor should collect debts that are due to the estate, file the final tax returns of the decedent, and pay off taxes.
How Long Will All These Steps Take?
Put simply, the answer mainly depends on when the executor can settle all estate accounts and distribute the property, which can only be done after a set waiting period, to enable creditors to file their claims. After this waiting period, the executor can then allocate the estate property or cash to the inheritors.
The amount of time it will take to complete the entire probate process would likewise depend on how fast the executor does his or her job and how overloaded or busy the probate court is. With that said, probate can last for several months or years.
As you’ve probably gleaned by now, there are many factors that will come into play during the probate process and these will directly affect how long the process lasts. If you have been appointed as executor of an estate or have further questions, consult an experienced probate lawyer to help you out.