Probate is a legal process wherein a court oversees the distribution of a deceased person’s estate to the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate after the payment of all debts, obligations and funeral expenses. A probate proceeding helps fulfill the wishes of the deceased as specified in a Will. In case there is no Will, the distribution of the deceased’s estate is made according to the applicable state laws.
The time required to complete the probate process depends on several factors, including:
- The complexity of the estate
- The applicable laws and the documents that must be filed
- The manner in which the deceased left assets, whether those assets were organized and easy to locate, and whether all necessary documents are available
- Locating creditors and settling debts
- Settling the lawsuits, if any, against the estate
- Lawsuits contesting the Will, if any
- Locating beneficiaries
- The tax position of the estate
With the above factors in mind, the probate process may be completed in nine to twelve months or may take years. The probate process can be delayed if the validity of the Will is contested, if there are disputes relating to the settlement of the debt of the deceased, or if there is a delay in finding beneficiaries. Tax issues can also delay a probate process.
The cost of a probate process may be set by the applicable state laws or by practice and therefore differs from state to state and case to case. The general costs included are:
- Appraisal costs
- Personal representative fees
- Court costs
- Cost of a surety bond
- Legal and accounting fees
Although some of these charges are fixed per state law, legal and accounting fees can be negotiated. However, in case of any type of disputes or litigation, the probate process may continue for months, if not years, and involve a number of additional costs.
You can receive a free report detailing the probate process by going to our website.