How Long Does Probate Take?
Typically, a Petition The Court To Be Named As Legal Representative takes 1 to 3 Months.
Probate is the process of transferring the ownership of assets, paying the debts, and finalizing the legal affairs of a deceased individual. Probate can take varying amounts of time depending on the complexity of the deceased’s assets. Although rare, some probate cases can continue indefinitely. No one can tell you exactly how long your case will take, but knowing the steps in the probate process and the general time frame for each can help you make an informed estimate.
Average Time for Probate Process
In most instances, the deceased individual created a will and named an executor. The named executor will have to petition the court to be granted authority to act for the estate.
Complications that could increase the length of time
• There is no Will: If the deceased died without a will, the individual seeking to be legal representative simply needs to petition the court to become the administrator of the estate. In most instances, the process is essentially the same as when there is a will.
• There is only a photocopy of the will: Possessing only a photocopy of the will is a remarkably common situation. In this instance, you inform the court that you could not find an original and ask the court to accept the photocopy. This additional step may add some time to the proceedings, but probably just a few weeks.
• There is family controversy over the will: During the process of proving the will, any heirs (or interested parties) must affirm the validity of the will. A challenge to the will creates serious delays and requires costly legal actions.
Notify Heirs And Debtors: 1-3 Months.
After the court appoints you as legal representative of the estate, you are obligated to find the heirs (listed in the will) and debtors and notify them of their status. In most cases, modern technology has made notifying heirs and debtors relatively easy. A simple credit report of the deceased will list almost all debtors, and the court will ask you to advertise the estate in the local paper. Locating heirs may be more complicated, but some time spent on Google will likely help you find what you need.
Change Legal Ownership Of Assets To Estate: 1-6 Months.
Once you are the legal representative (either executor or administrator) of the estate, you must change ownership of all the assets the deceased had to the estate. Unfortunately, modern technology has actually made identifying assets more difficult. In previous decades, an executor could simply gather the mail to see what the deceased owned (bank accounts, investments etc.). Now many people get their statements online, which can create complications since you may not have the username/passwords to access the information or even know what accounts they have. A little digging into their credit report, tax returns (interest, dividends, and stock sales will be listed and show where assets are held), and checking email for account statements will begin to point you in the right direction. If you can’t find password information for a particular account that you know exists, contacting the institution and providing the official letters from the court will help you get into the accounts.
Pay estate expenses: 1-9 months.
Depending on the complexity of the estate, paying estate expenses can be quick or lengthy. Once you have a reasonable idea of the likely expenses (funeral, taxes, debt), you should begin to pay out expenses. Some, like the funeral expenses, may have already been paid, in which case you can reimburse the family member who paid it. Keep in mind that the court will want to see proof of certain expenses (namely, the funeral), so maintaining accurate records is critical. Also remember that taxes are the most important expenses to pay. If there are unpaid tax (federal and state), the executor or administrator may be held personally responsible for them.
Notify The Court Of All Actions And Close The Estate: 3-24 Months.
Depending on the complexity of the estate, you will be able to complete all notifications within a year. However, most courts allow you a two year period before you are required to provide either a final or status report.
Factors that Slows Down the Probate Process
Some common issues that complicate the probate process include:
• There Is No Will: If a deceased loved one did not leave a will, the court will be much more involved in the process.
• Contesting the Will: Even if there is a will, its validity may be contested on a number of grounds. It may be contended that the will was not drafted properly. It may also be argued that one of the beneficiaries had undue influence over the deceased at the time the will was drafted or amended, or that the deceased did not write the will with full control of their mental faculties.
• Disagreements among Beneficiaries Disagreements among beneficiaries don’t need to involve contests over the will. If multiple beneficiaries hire their own lawyers to oversee the probate process, disputes may arise that cause the process to drag.
• Settling Many Debts – If a deceased loved one had many outstanding debts or tax bills, the process will not end until these matters are resolved.
• Complicated Assets – If there are family businesses and complicated assets and interests that have to be divided, it can take more time to determine which beneficiary receives what.
Most Commonly Required Documents
These documents are those that will likely be required by the probate court or by asset holders, such as banks or the department of motor vehicles, for actual administration of the state.
• Last will and testament, including any codicils. This must be a signed, original version. If you cannot find the original will and have a copy of it, courts will allow you to submit a copy when accompanied by several additional forms. (If you cannot locate a will or do not have a copy, you will have to proceed as if there is no will. The state’s intestate laws (no will inheritance law) will determine priority of administration and inheritance.)
• Revocable living trust documents, including any amendments. A copy is generally fine.
• Death certificates. You will likely need multiple original copies of the death certificate to get necessary information from other sources.
• Life insurance policies
• Beneficiary designations. These are most commonly included with life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and payable on death or transfer on death accounts.
• Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
• Loan agreements
• Lease agreements
• Real estate deeds
• Vehicle titles. Original titles are required to transfer legal title.
• Stock and bond certificates. Original certificates are generally required.
• Federal and state income tax returns for the past three years
• Federal and state gift tax returns
• Petition for Probate Administration. You can call Ascent Law for help with this.
Helpful Documents To Have On Hand
These documents will provide you the relevant information you’ll need to carry out estate administration.
• Recent account statements, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, and brokerage accounts
• List of eligible heirs and contact information
• List of known assets
• List of known debts
• Appraisal valuations for high-value personal belongings
• Existing bills, such as utility bills, cell phone bills, credit card bills, mortgages and personal loan bills, property tax bills, medical bills, funeral bill
These documents will be necessary only if the deceased owned a closely-held business.
• Corporate LLC or partnership documents
• Account statements
• Business licenses
• Income tax returns
• Titles for vehicles
Probate Is Needed Whether or Not If There Was A Will
If there was no will, probate will be needed. Probate helps regulate the beneficiaries and allocate the decedent’s assets and ‘title’ to property.
A Valid Will Exists
To follow proper distribution of the assets of an estate (without some smaller estates) to the named beneficiaries, a valid will should go through probate.
If Any Problems with An Existing Will
There are some of these issues may include the following:
• there are mistakes in the ‘will,’ or it was deceitfully executed;
• the submitted will not be the final version to consider;
• Or any other obstacles to the integrity of the Will;
• the will then drafted when the decedent was not of sound mind (Eligibility element).
When Estate’s Assets Are Solely In The Deceased’s Name
In most related cases, an estate must go through probate to transfer the property into the name(s) of any beneficiaries if the deceased owned property with no other names involved.
If There Are No Beneficiaries/Have Predeceased The Decedent
This situation put on to any retirement or savings accounts that would payout to beneficiaries such as IRA or life insurance policies. The accounts will need to probate if beneficiaries are not named or are all predeceased to transfer funds or titles into the beneficiary’s names. Probate of Will must use transfer his or her share of the property into the names of the appropriate beneficiaries and remove the decedent’s name in the case that a decedent owned property with others. The probate of will process protects an estate from challenges to the specified beneficiaries of the inheritance and clarifies a will. However, using probate sometimes is a necessary method for a will to make it useful.
As a fee to issue probate of Will, the court may impose a percentage of assets. Probate of Will can then grant only to the executor appointed under a will. Even if the executor is not available to administer the estate, the application must make for designating the same by the court before applying for probate of Will.
What do you mean by Application of Probate of will?
The Probate of will is granted to executor or executors by the Utah Probate Court in succession, with a copy of the will attached if more than one is named. After the seven days of the death of the Testator, One can also apply for Probate of will.
Benefits of Probate of a Will
• The Probate of will procedure is beneficial to those who want to broadcast the distribution of the will.
• It supports to protect small estates.
• It can be utilized as a tool to challenge a creditor’s claim in a court of law if you think that it has falsely made a claim.
• It provides direction to cases where there is no will in place so that the right beneficiary acquires the testator’s inheritance.
• Probate offers the court the chance to handle a disputed will.
• Within 90 days, the Probate contributes you the chance to close out all creditors to the estate.
• Probate of a Will founds the authenticity of a will after the death of the testator and displays the executors and legal heirs to the contented of the will.
Procedure For Getting A Probate Will
1. Preparation For Application: The first step is to prepare an application for the petition duly signed and verified by applicant to the District Judge. It should be in the format prescribed under the ‘Utah Probate Code’. Moreover, this should be done after the testator’s death, in the next seven days.
2. Submit Application And Documents: The application needs to be sent to the high court, which needs to be prepared by lawyers. The High Court should be under the jurisdiction of the property. However, a lower court may accept the application in some cases. Along with the application, certain documents are needed to be submitted while applying for Probate of will. It would be best if you showed that the will is genuine and the documents to prove too. You will also need to submit a document to prove that the testator’s will was executed as per his/her own free will and show the testator’s death certificate.
3. Advertisement: It verifies all ‘details and issues’ an invitation letter to the nearest kin of the deceased once the court receives the application to claim the Probate. In any case, a letter is also stuck at prominent places to invite objections and, for public view. The Probate is issued if there is no objection from the kin or the public after 120 days.
Authenticating the Last Will
As soon as it is reasonably possible, anyone who has the deceased’s will – should file it with the probate court, according to most states that have laws in place. An application or petition to sweep the Probate of the estate is generally made at the same time. Along with the will and the petition, sometimes, it’s necessary to file the death certificate. The court relies on witnesses to determine if the submitted will is the real deal. Many will include witnesses sign an affidavit while the will is signed and witnessed and so-called “self-proving affidavits” in which the decedent. One or more of the will’s witnesses may be needed to sign and testify in court or sworn statement that they watched the decedent ‘sign’ the will. It is to enable that the will in question is undoubtedly the one they saw signed.
Appointing The Executor Or A Personal Representative
Correspondingly, as sometimes called a personal representative or administrator, the judge will appoint an executor as well. This individual will settle the estate and oversee the probate process. The appointed executor will get “letters testamentary” from the court. It is a legal way of saying they’ll receive documentation permitting them to act and enter into dealings and transactions on behalf of the estate. This documentation is often referred to as “letters of administration” or “letters of authority.”
In the event where the executor commits some grievous error, the bond acts as an insurance policy that will kick in to compensate the estate. It is done either intentionally or unintentionally for the financially damage the estate and its beneficiaries by extension.
Tracing The Decedent’s Assets
The executor’s first task involves taking possession of all the decedent’s assets and locating so they can protect them during the probate process. This can include a fair bit of time and investigation. Some people (even their spouses) own assets they’ve told no one about, and these assets might not be defined in their wills. The executor is not assumed to move into the building or the residence and remain all over the probate process to “protect” it in real estate.
Paying The Decedent’s Debts
Including all those that might have been incurred during the final illness, the executor will utilize estate funds to pay all the decedent’s ‘debts and final’ bills.
Preparing And Filing Tax Returns
The executor will file the decedent’s ‘final personal income tax returns’ for the year they pass away.
Distributing The Estate
The executor can file a petition the court to distribute “what is left of the ‘decedent’s assets’ to the beneficiaries,” named all these steps have been completed. This usually needs the court’s permission, which is typically only granted after the executor has submitted a comprehensive accounting of every financial transaction they’ve promised in all over the probate process.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law 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