Finding out you are soon to receive an inheritance can raise many questions, if you are unfamiliar with the probate process. Probate is an often lengthy court procedure, and how long the process will actually take depends, in part, on the size and nature of the estate of the deceased. There are many steps required in the process, which all take some time to complete. Eventually, once the estate’s assets have been liquidated to the extent necessary, your inheritance can be distributed. But, if you are wondering how long does it take after liquidation to distribute an estate, here are some of the factors that will affect the process. At the very least, these factors can give you some idea of what to expect.
The caseload of the probate court
One factor to consider is how busy the probate may be at the time of the probate proceedings. Depending on the location of the court, whether it is located in a large city with a larger court docket, it may take considerably longer to complete the probate process. Of course, the opposite is typically true for courts that serve a much smaller population. Unfortunately, you have very little choice in the location. The law requires an estate to be probated in the jurisdiction of the decedent’s primary residence at the time of death or in the county containing property owned by the decedent.
The size of the estate and the number of creditors
Another primary factor affecting the length of the probate court proceedings is the size and nature of the estate. If the estate is complex, or there are many assets, (e.g., real property, investment accounts, businesses and residences), then the probate process will usually take much longer to complete. Keep in mind, too, that all creditor claims against the estate must be resolved by the court before any distributions can be made to beneficiaries. Every creditor has a right to a hearing before the Court, so this phase of the probate process can be very time consuming. If there are any disputes regarding creditor claims, the probate process will be prolonged that much more.
Assets that don’t require probate save time
If you happen to be the beneficiary of a trust instead of a will, then most likely there will be no need to go through probate before you can receive your inheritance. In those cases, you should be able to claim your inheritance rather quickly. That is because trusts are “non-probate” assets. The most common types of non-probate assets are those created by contracts and trusts, such as life insurance policies and annuities.
If you have questions regarding the probate process, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Sexton, Bailey Attorneys, PA online or by calling us at (479) 443-0062.