The passing of a loved one is never easy, but if your family member had an estate plan in place, you may inherit something to remember him or her by. In California, a person’s will must be submitted to probate in order for the estate to be distributed, and one of the most common questions that our office is asked is how long does probate take? The answer is that it depends on a number of factors specific to your case; however, having an experienced probate attorney handle your case is your best chance at having the probate process completed as quickly as possible. To learn more about the California probate process and for a free consultation of your case, call or contact the Inheritance Recovery Attorneys today.
Complexity of the Estate
One of the biggest factors in determining the length of probate for an estate is the complexity of the estate in the will. Simple estates that do not have a high asset value and minimal debts can be resolved in probate within a few weeks or a couple of months. If the estate has relatively few heirs that agree on the terms of the will, this can also speed up the process of probate. However, if the estate is particularly complex the probate process can take much longer.
An estate can be deemed complex for a number of different reasons. If the estate has a high net value, chances are more likely that the assets themselves are particularly complex. The estate could include a mixture of real estate, personal property, financial accounts, investments, securities, and other assets. Valuing and distributing complex assets takes more time. An estate could also be deemed complex if it has a number of creditors and sufficient debts that need to be paid out before the assets can be distributed to the heirs. Finally, an estate can become more complex if one or more people contest the contents of the will. A complex estate can take a significantly longer time to probate depending on the specific issues of the case.
One issue that can make the probate process much longer in California is when one or more people challenge, or contest, the contents of a will. A will can be contested by anyone who has standing under California law. This means that the person does, or could potentially, stand to inherit part of the estate. The most common will contests include claims of a lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, forgery, duress, and procedural issues.
The reason why a will contest can drastically affect the length of time a will spends in probate is that a contest is a legal challenge that must be resolved before probate can be closed on the estate. This includes all aspects of a trial including extensive discovery, such as depositions, expert testimony, interrogatories, and requests for production. Pretrial motions, a trial on the merits of the case, and any potential appeals must also be taken into account when determining how long the estate will remain in probate. Depending on the specifics of the case, a will contest can take months or even years to resolve, and the will remains in probate with the court the entire time.
One final factor that can impact the length of probate in California is any miscellaneous issues that may arise in the final stages. Taxes must be paid on the estate, and any audits or problems that arise in that process can lengthen probate. Settling all debts ensuring that all final wishes of the deceased are upheld can also take time. While it may not rise to the level of a will contest, if heirs disagree about the distribution of assets in the estate, it can take longer to resolve those problems before the probate process is complete. If you would like to learn more about how long probate takes in a California case and what factors may affect the length of time that your case is in probate, call or contact a legal expert today.
Call or Contact Our Office Now
At the Inheritance Recovery Attorneys, our office understands how frustrating the probate process can be and are here to help expedite probate in your case as much as possible. For a free consultation of your case with one of our experienced California probate professionals, call or contact our office today.