How Long Does Probate Take?
aka, How Long Does it Take to Get Inheritance Money?
There’s no easy answer, but I can give you some general guidelines. Let me get started by giving some details about probate, probate court and the general process you’ll want to be familiar with. I will avoid technical terms as much as possible. For example, I just use the term “beneficiary” for someone getting a gift from a decedent’s estate either by operation of law or by will or trust.
What is Probate?
When someone passes away, everything that they owned is left behind. To ensure that everything is gathered up and distributed correctly to the rightful beneficiaries, state governments have set up a process called “probate.” Special courts carry out this process, making sure that all of the money, investments, property, personal belongings, and other assets that were owned by the decedent are managed correctly. Everything that the person owned is collectively called an “estate.”
If you are an beneficiary and you are wondering how long does it take to get inheritance money, let’s look at the factors that determine the answer. To know when an beneficiary will receive his or her inheritance money, the real question is, “ How long does probate take?”
Typically, a family member or close relative will hire an attorney to manage the day-to-day tasks that make up the probate process. In general, the attorney and personal representative do most of the work, while the probate court oversees and approves the various steps. Thus, to answer how long does probate court take, one must also consider all of the steps that needs to happen combined with the need for the court to approve these steps.
When will I receive my inheritance money?
How long it takes to settle an estate depends on several factors. One variable is the complexity and makeup of the estate. Easiest to manage is cash, which would typically be sitting in a bank account.
In contrast, if the estate consists of real property, it must be prepared, marketed and sold so that the proceeds of the sale can be divided amongst the rightful beneficiary. In some cases, it is possible to turn over the property directly to one or more beneficiary by transferring over the title. In other cases, an heir who wants to hang on to the real estate can buy out the other beneficiary using cash or by securing a mortgage. This process will take time.
When an beneficiary wants to know, how long does it take to probate a will?, another factor is something called the “creditor claims period.” This is a waiting period during which entities that are owed money by the decedent may present a claim to the court for review. For example, if the decedent owed money on a credit card, has unpaid property taxes, or outstanding bills to a medical provider, for example, those bills must be collected and paid before the beneficiary can receive their inheritance money. Those managing the estate, typically a family member, friend, or professional manager working with an estate lawyer, must publish a notice in the newspaper informing creditors who may be out there that the decedent has passed away and inviting them to submit a claim to the estate.
In Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, the creditor claims period is one year. More common is six months, which is the claims period in states such as Georgia, Indiana, and Virginia. In other states the typical claims period is four months, as in the case of California, Michigan and Washington. In a few states it is even less. The length of the creditor claims period is an important factor if you want to know, “How long after probate is granted will I get my money?”
Typical Court Delays
In many states, the probate courts are significantly backed up. This is an issue because the courts usually need to oversee and approve the actions taken by the estate to make sure all of the steps are done correctly. In California or New York, it can easily take 3-6 months or more just to get a court date for a hearing. At the hearing, the court can sign off on the various steps such as allowing the sale of a home or approving the final accounting of an estate. If anything is done incorrectly, the person managing the estate must fix the mistakes and then wait all over again for the next court date. Without taking into account the important factor of court delays, it is difficult to come up with a correct answer to the question, “How long does the probate process take?”
Hopefully you are starting to get an idea of how the probate process can easily take months or worst-case, years.
Conflict and Litigation
Perhaps the biggest variable in the question, How long does it take to settle an estate?, is the issue of conflict within a family. If family members are fighting over the estate and their inheritances, contesting a will, or even pursuing litigation, all bets are off. In these situations, determining how long does probate take is anybody’s guess. Unless the parties in conflict can reach a quick agreement, this will generally add AT LEAST one or two years to the process. This delay is compounded by the fact that the litigation will consume a lot of the money in the estate. As a rule, the biggest winners will be the attorneys who collect large fees from the fighting family members.
How long does it take to get an inheritance?
The factors above are just some of the considerations that can help you figure out when you will get your inheritance money after probate is granted. As you can see, there is no easy answer. However, while every estate is different and dependent on a number of unique factors, it’s easy to see how the process can take many months or even years before heirs and beneficiaries get any of their inheritance.
Can I get My Inheritance Money Early?
Now that you understand that it may be months or years before you get your inheritance money from a will or an estate without a will (a situation called intestacy), you may be asking, can I get a loan or advance on my expected inheritance? The answer is yes! Fortunately for many heirs who need money, Heir Cash Now provides beneficiary with an inheritance in probate the ability to access a portion of their expected inheritance money immediately, without any waiting. Heirs and beneficiaries of an estate who call us can receive money in as little as one day.
Give us a call at (860) 800-6633 and ask for Matt. I’ve helped countless beneficiaries over the years access funds from their inheritance stuck in probate.
We offer free consultations and we are committed to answering all your questions so you can understand exactly how it works. If you decide to go ahead with an application, I can take your information right over the phone to get started.
If you owe money, getting an advance on your inheritance is a great way to pay your bills now, take care of your financial obligations, and restore your peace of mind. We look forward to your call!
Here is some additional information that is good to know as you navigate the probate process.
Did You Know that Probate Isn’t Always Called Probate?
The name of the court that handles probate depends on the city, county, or state where it is located. In Michigan, Florida, and Texas, the courts that handle probate are simply called Probate Courts.
Sometimes the probate court operates as an independent court, while in other places the probate court is part of a larger court system (this could be called Superior Court, Circuit Court, District Court, etc). In California, for example, each county has a probate court, which is a division of the state Superior Court. In other places, the probate division is a separate court set up at the state or regional level.
In many states, the probate courts are not part of another court but operate independently. In Texas, for example, each county manages its own probate court.
To add to the confusion, in some places the probate courts go by another name. In New York and New Jersey, for example, probate is handled by the “Surrogate’s Court” or “Orphan’s Court.” In Mississippi, Tennessee, and Delaware, the courts that handle probate are called the Chancery Court. In Pennsylvania and Maryland, probate is handled by the Orphan’s Courts. In Pennsylvania, the Orphan’s Court is part of the “Court of Common Pleas.”
But no matter what the name, probate is intended to be an orderly, straightforward process to get heirs and beneficiaries their rightful inheritance. It’s unfortunate that this process takes such a long time.
For general information about Heir Cash Now visit our home page https://heircashnow.com/
Matt Lakenbach is a funding expert and Managing Director of Heir Cash Now. He has worked with attorneys, courts, and beneficiaries for several years to help heirs access their inheritances without the long wait. He previously worked for a nonprofit organization, and has a Master’s in International Peace and Conflict Resolution.