When probate is undertaken, most people would like to know how long it takes for the complete probate process. Unfortunately, there is no one time limit for all probate cases because they all vary in their complexity
In general, here are a few things about probate that you should know in order to understand the duration of probate.
- In Florida, the timeline for probate varies depending on the case. The nature of the complete probate process is such that predicting a fixed time for an outcome is not possible. How long will the probate process take? One thing for sure is that probate cannot be accomplished in a matter of days or even a few weeks.
- For most simple cases where the assets are not very significant (usually less than $75,000) and the parties concerned have no disagreements, probate can take 6-12 months.
- If probate is managed by formal administration, the probate courts can take anywhere from 8-15 months to resolve the disputes.
- If all the parties concerned are in disagreement about the will and/or there are significant assets belonging to the decedent, the complete probate process can take several years.
How Long Will the Probate Process Take? The Timeline
To understand how probate works, you should have some idea about the chronology of the probate process.
Deadlines: The very first deadline associated with probate requires that the heir or Personal Representative of the will file with the probate court within 10 days of being notified of the decedent’s death.
Granting Letter of Administration: To satisfy the obligations of the decedent, a custodian or Personal Representative of the estate is necessary. Sometimes if there are several siblings, they may not agree to the selection of the representative.
In such cases, the court will formally appoint a Personal Representative of the estate. If there are no arguments between the parties, then the court will formally recognize one Personal Representative of the estate and issue the Letters of Administration.
This process, where the court sends out the Administrative Letters to the estate Personal Representative, may take anywhere from 1-4 weeks.
Locating and Informing the Creditors: Once the probate process has been initiated, the next phase is for the estate representative or Personal Representative to publish a notice to creditors. While there are no strict deadlines on this publication, the law recommends that the notices be published for at least 14 days.
In turn, creditors have 9 days from the day of the notice to file for any claims. In some instances, the decedent may have had no debt or liens and the probate process can be hurried along smoothly.
Proving the Decedent’s Death: If the probate process is managed by Formal Administration, the estate Personal Representative is responsible for providing evidence of the decedent’s death to all creditors within 12 weeks of releasing the notice.
Verified Statement: After the notice has been sent to creditors, a Verified Statement has to be sent into the court within 16 weeks. The statement should mention that the creditor’s claims against the estate have been verified and are true.
Validity of Will: At the time of probate, the court will check for the legality/validity of the will written by the decedent. However, the time to assess the legality of the will does vary. If the heirs and beneficiaries have no disagreement about the will’s validity, then the process moves faster.
Objections: Once the estate Personal Representative has totaled the estate value, it needs to be filed with the court. At this point, the heirs or parties may dispute the Accounting notice and they usually have 30 days within which to challenge the notice.
If there is a dispute in the estate’s value, then the probate process can take a lot longer. For example, there may be some assets hidden by a sibling or an ex-wife and the court will do a search, which takes time.
Receipts: Once the court decision has been made regarding probate, the Personal Representative of the estate will need to settle all debts and liens owed by the decedent. Only after the creditors are paid can the Personal Representative distribute the remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries.
Once all the parties have been paid, the Personal Representative has to submit the receipts to the court. This filing has to be completed within 12 months of the Letters of Administration issuance.
Closure: Once all the assets have been dispersed, the Personal Representative should file for estate closure.
How long will the probate process take? In general, if there are no major disputes among the parties, the complete probate process can move fairly fast but even the simplest cases can take 3-6 months to resolve.
Complex probate cases can take several years to come to a resolution. If one of your family members has passed away without a will and has assets, the best recommendation is to consult with a Florida probate lawyer.
After reviewing the case, the lawyer may be able to offer you a rough timeline on how long the probate process will take. Contact the experts as Elder Law today for your FREE consultation.