The word Probate often refers to the entire process of settling the estate of someone who has died. From beginning to end, this process usually takes between 9 and 12 months. That in cases where the estate is small and uncomplicated, probate can take less time.
Broadly speaking, there are three main stages in the probate process:
• Gathering documents and information
• Applying for the grant of representation
• Dividing up the estate
Gathering information for probate takes 4-8 weeks: Before you can begin sorting out the estate of someone who has died, you’ll need to know what that estate is made up of.
So, your first step is to gather information. For example:
• How much is left in their bank account?
• The value of any property they owned
• the value of their possessions and investments
• Details of any cash gifts they gave in the last seven years
• Details of tax owed, plus any other outstanding debts
• Whether the organizations holding assets (e.g. banks) require a grant of representation before you can access them
You’ll also need to track down documents:
• The original will and any codicils
• A death certificate (also useful to have a few copies)
• Paperwork relating to their ownership of certain assets
Once you know the full value of the estate, the next step is to report it to the internal revenue service (IRS). They will then confirm how much inheritance tax is due (if any). This needs to be dealt with before you apply for a grant of representation.
Applying for the grant of representation takes 4-8 weeks: Once you’ve found out the value of the estate and reported it to the IRS, you can apply for a grant of representation. This is a document that proves your legal right to sort out the estate of the person who has died. With it, you can access and close their bank accounts, pay any outstanding debts, settle any inheritance tax, and see that their funds, assets and property are given to the right people. If there is a will, you’ll need to apply for a grant of probate. If there isn’t a will, you’ll need a letter of administration instead. In other state, you’ll need a certificate of confirmation in both cases.
After you’ve sent out the form, it’s natural to wonder how long the grant of probate will take to arrive (or letter of administration, if you’re settling the estate without a will). An estimate is that it takes three to five weeks, as long as the estate is pretty simple to review and the application has been completed properly.
Dividing up the estate takes 6-9 months: Once you have the grant of representation, you’ll be able to access the assets of the person who has died, including their bank accounts, insurance and deeds to their property. You can now pay any debts and tax that were left behind, sell property, pay for the funeral and divide up the remaining estate. A will usually makes the probate process faster, since it should outline what the estate includes and who should receive what this can save you weeks of information gathering time. However, a will can also make the probate process longer by setting out trusts to be established or stipulations to be met; if the will is contested, the probate process can go on for years.
This will depend on how complex the estate is if there are complicated assets, such as multiple properties, shares, and accounts; it is likely to take longer than if they had owned a single bank account and very few other assets. It will also depend on how much time you and the other representatives can dedicate if you are able to take extended leave from work to deal with probate, for example, you will probably be able to take care of it more quickly.
On average, probate takes between six to nine months to complete and can take up to eighty working hours. However, other complications can cause the process to take considerably longer, such as if the Will is contested, or the deceased did not keep clear records of all their assets. It is not unheard of for the process to take several years to wrap up.
Generally speaking, probating a will should take less than a year, although in unfortunate cases it can take even longer. Some factors that can make for a longer probate process may include the following:
• Will contests challenging validity of the will and/or certain bequests
• Complicated assets such as business interests, which are trickier to distribute to heirs, as opposed to straightforward ones like bank accounts
• Taxable estate, mostly because an additional governmental entity (Internal Revenue Service) will be involved
On the bright side, though, some states do have simplified procedures for smaller estates (those with a value below a certain amount), which can shorten the length of the probate process considerably. For a simple, straightforward estate, where the inheritance tax threshold was not reached and there is no property to sell probate can take as little as 3 months. However, it will likely take more time than that because before an inheritance can be paid out, debts need to be paid off.
Probate can be granted within 3 months but the majority of Estates in Utah take around 6 to 9 months for Beneficiaries to receive their inheritance. Where there is property to sell it will depend on finding a buyer for the property although beneficiaries have a choice to receive assets in specie rather than receiving the proceeds of sale.
Another reason that may lead to delays is if the IRS is making inquiries into the Estate. If you find yourself asking about the length of the probate process from start to finish, sit down and buckle up because unfortunately the process is an unpredictable and lengthy legal procedure. The length of the probate process timeline depends on several factors.
For example, the size of the decedent’s estate and level of complexity, whether or not the decedent left behind a will and if it’s contested, outstanding debts and obligations, and the number of proposed heirs can all add several months or years to the procedure.
Other factors may include tax complications, non-probate lawsuits, and probate procedural requirements. It’s important to note that procedural requirements regarding probate vary by state. Additionally, the majority of courts have local court rules. It is a good idea to research probate law and various probate attorneys ahead of time. Researching probate will facilitate an understanding of various state requirements, local court rules, and key probate terms.
In turn, this will help you understand what is involved for the probate process. Another benefit of researching probate law and contacting a probate attorney regarding the process details of probate is that you will be able to determine a timeline tailored to the specific circumstances of your probate matter.
The time estimates will not apply in every situation since specifics of the probate process differ with every estate; however our probate timeline can act as a reference tool for approximating how long your probate process may take and how long it may be until you can access your inheritance.
Whether you are currently involved in probate or you anticipate being involved, this probate process timeline can give you an idea of just how much money you may need in order to withstand the entire duration.
Understanding the Inheritance Process
To understand why the probate process can take so long to complete, one should understand the fundamentals of the probate timeline. The probate process begins after someone dies. The person who died (the decedent) may have died testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will). Despite the existence of a will or not, the decedent’s assets, including his or her personal property and real property, must be transferred to someone else. If the person dies with a valid will, all assets (referred to as the estate) will be transferred to the person or persons designated in the will. If the person dies without a will or if the probate court determines the will to be invalid, the estate will be transferred according to state law. State laws vary regarding estate distribution.
Before a decedent’s estate can be distributed, whether according to a will or according to state law, all of the decedent’s assets must be allocated, accounted for, and inventoried. Additionally, all debts, fees, taxes, and other monetary obligations must be settled. This can add several months in itself to the inheritance timeline depending on the size of the estate and the number of varying assets. Furthermore, any and all probate related disputes and non-probate lawsuits must be completed before the inheritance process can proceed.
Easing the Strain of the Probate Process
The probate timeline often lasts an entire year for even simple estates. Inheritance timeline estimates need to take into consideration contested wills, other potential lawsuits, and other time-consuming complications. Often times, probate can take several months to several years. In rare and extremely complicated cases, probate can even take decades to distribute inheritance assets.
Convincing Solicitors are regularly asked to act on the sale of properties when it turns out that the owner has died. In such cases they have to advise that before the sale can be completed a Grant of Probate of the Will must be obtained. If the deceased did not leave a valid will, then Letters of Administration have to be obtained, but the procedure is much the same. If a buyer has already been found, then it will be desirable to obtain a grant as quickly as possible, otherwise the sale may fall through.
When a house or land forms part of a deceased owner’s assets then Convincing Solicitors recommend that an application for a grant is made even if there is no immediate intention of selling. If the property title is already registered at the land registry then the executors can have their names registered, or otherwise transfer title to a beneficiary, making it easier and quicker to complete any subsequent sale.
The procedure for obtaining a Grant is relatively straightforward, since it is a case of following a number of rigid steps, and it can take between four and six weeks. However, it is difficult to say exactly how long it will take as each case is different, and much will depend upon the nature of the assets which the deceased owned. Applications are made to the Probate Registry, which has a number of district offices around the country. Convincing Solicitors can always assist with Probate applications, but if the house was the only asset of substance then it is often quite straightforward for a personal application to be made without the need to instruct a Solicitor.
Compiling a list of assets and their value
For all applications a schedule of the deceased’s assets and their value must be completed. Values are taken at the date of death, so if that was some time before a property is sold, or if no buyer has yet been found, it will be necessary to obtain a professional valuation as at the relevant date. Otherwise an existing sale price can be used.
Evidence of the value of other assets (other than cash) may be required, although it is not usually necessary to obtain a detailed valuation of normal household effects unless there are items of significant value. Any outstanding debts, together with funeral expenses, are deducted from the gross value of the estate for the purposes of calculating tax.
Applications where no inheritance tax is payable
You should speak with a lawyer if you think inheritance tax is due and owing. This will depend on current laws, which are constantly changing.
On average it takes a week to ten days for applications to be processed by deal with the Probate Registry, as long as there are no queries raised or complicated matters involved. Probate in this scenario should take 4 to 6 weeks.
• Dealing with an Estate where there is an intestacy and several people may be entitled to apply
• Where there are difficulties in locating assets
• Where there are a number of shareholdings – each company must be contacted and then a share valuation will need to be obtained
• Where an Executor or Administrator wishes to give up their right to be an Executor or Administrator so another needs to be appointed in their place
• Where the deceased made lifetime gifts and these need to be verified
If you are appointed as an Executor (or entitled to act as an Administrator) of an estate it is important to familiarize yourself with the procedures involved during the Probate process and make sure you collate all the necessary documentation and information quickly so as to avoid unnecessary delay. Companies such as Ascent Law LLC can help you with the Probate process.
When you need a probate lawyer, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506