It is a widespread belief that probate essentially takes forever to complete. But is this true? The truth is that the duration of the probate process depends on a variety of factors, including whether there is a will, the complexity of the assets, the number of beneficiaries and whether there are any disputes.
In Florida, there is a creditor claim period of three months, so that is the shortest the process can take. That said, some estates may take several more months or even years to probate.
Leaving a will or dying intestate
If the decedent leaves a will, it makes the probate process much more efficient from the start. But there can be plenty of hangups if there is no will. The estate will still need to go through probate, but the court will have to manage it according to state intestacy laws. When there is no will, the judge will also need to designate an executor.
Simple or complex assets
If an estate consists of basic assets, such as bank accounts and a house, the probate is likely going to be relatively straightforward. But if there is significant wealth in the estate and other complicated assets, such as multiple properties and business interests, the administration process tends to drag out.
Number of beneficiaries
The number of heirs to the estate directly impacts how much time it takes to get things done. This is because of the simple fact that it takes more time to transfer documents back and forth among various individuals who may live in different locations.
Disagreements and disputes
Disappointments about the outcome of a will and long-held family grievances can complicate the probate process. Beneficiaries who fight with one another can prolong the process. There may even be a will contest, which happens when a beneficiary challenges the validity of the document. Beneficiaries may even try to remove the executor. Arguments and legal claims can cause probate to take years to finish.