Losing a loved one is a very difficult time. As well as the grief we suffer, there is usually a mountain of responsibilities to navigate.
When a will is involved, the legal process can be even more difficult. This is why it is important to have someone by your side who can help you answer any difficult questions and help guide you through the legal proceedings.
You may find yourself settling your loved one’s affairs after they pass away.
If they left a will, it may have to go through probate at court, depending on your state. This probate is in place to distribute the assets of the deceased’s estate legally and appropriately.
If your state requires probate, there will be laws that dictate what the process is for opening probate proceedings and how long it may take to validate the will and administer the estate.
Some states allow you to file the will so you can open a probate case immediately. Other states may require a certain amount of time to elapse before the will can be filed with the probate court.
Today, we are going to guide you through the process of executing a will after your loved one’s passing and how long this may take.
In order to validate wills, you may have to go through legal proceedings known as probate court matters. These also administer the estates of the deceased person who left a last will and testament.
Probate proceedings also help settle the estates of people who died without a valid will. Whether a will requires probate depends on a state’s probate code or similar statutory provisions.
Some states have a law in force in which every last will and testament has to go through probate court administration.
Meanwhile, some states do not have any requirements for a will to go through probate proceedings. This is if the state law considers the deceased individual’s probate estate to be small.
The probate estate usually includes assets in only the deceased person’s name at the time of their death. This tends to be without one or more joint owners and it does not include any beneficiaries.
It can take approximately six to nine months for the probate process to complete. This varies depending on the size of the assets that have to be distributed. However, this process can take a lot longer if any disputes arise, which can be quite common.
Submitting a will
Once a will enters probate court for administration, the court will look to appoint someone as the executor or personal representative of the deceased loved one’s estate.
This representative must act in the best interest of the estate, otherwise known as in a fiduciary capacity. They must not act in their own best interest.
The personal representative has a range of responsibilities including safeguarding the deceased individual’s assets, paying any valid debts such as final expenses, and estate administration costs, notifying creditors as well as other interested parties of the person’s death (this can include publishing an obituary in a legal newspaper), and distributing the deceased’s assets according to their wishes stated in their will.
They may be required to file and pay any income and estate taxes too. In the case of a loved one not leaving a will or interstate, the court will distribute the assets according to the specific state’s intestacy laws.
Possible limitations when filing a will
The amount of time you have to wait to file a will for administration can be determined by the state’s probate code.
Some states require that you have to wait a specific amount of time until the will can be filed. For instance, some require you to wait at least 120 hours after your loved one’s death.
Some states may also provide a deadline for filing a will for traditional probate estate administration.
Various states require a family member or another beneficiary to submit a will for administration within the first three years of the loved one’s date of death.
The time frames and exact processes involved in probate administration vary from one state to the next. If you are unsure of what your state’s laws and regulations are, contact a licensed probate attorney in your local area.
They will help ensure that your loved one’s estate and assets go through the correct administration steps according to your state’s applicable laws.
Some laws can change throughout states so consulting with a legal professional will help you understand the proceedings more easily.
Distribution to the beneficiaries
Distributing assets and the estate is the final step. This step is left to last to prevent any liability toward executors or trustees for unpaid debts, taxes, or bills.
When the final petition is filed, the account’s assets will be distributed by the terms stated in the final will.
You should be prepared for the entire probate process to be delayed, however. This could be because of a number of reasons.
The initial court filing could run into verification issues leading to the process slowing down for some time. This is why you should file immediately with the help of a law firm who are experienced with the probate process.
The process can also be slowed down if a beneficiary contests the will. This can be a significant delay.
The larger the estate and the more valuable it is, the higher chance there will be of a delayed probate process. Additional debts or creditors can also add more paperwork which can extend the waiting period.
Working with an experienced law firm can ensure the process goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.
For a simple estate, hiring the right help can see a will get distributed within just a few months. For more complex estates or trusts, this could last up to a year or more.
Depending on your state’s laws, the size and value of the estates in the will, the time you wait for a will to be executed after a loved one’s death can vary dramatically.