In the midst of planning a funeral and handling other paperwork, the probate process may be the last thing on a family’s mind. Most would hope to complete the process as quickly as possible.
Understanding what probate involves and typical timeframes can prepare a family for what to expect and what steps to take.
Summary release from administration and release from administration
Each estate is unique, meaning the timeline varies according to the circumstances. With a larger estate or many complicating factors, the longer the process takes.
Estates less than $5,000 can go through a summary release from administration, meaning there is no probate process. Estates worth less than $45,000 can receive a summary release from administration under a few conditions:
- The surviving spouse inherits the whole estate.
- The spouse paid or will pay the funeral expenses.
- The spouse has the right to a family support allowance.
Families should understand that a summary release from administration differs from a release from administration.
A release from administration simplifies probate for estates under $35,000. Estates under $100,000 can proceed through release through administration if the spouse inherits all property. The process usually lasts no more than four months but takes at least two months.
Formal probate generally takes at least six months. This time allows creditors to file claims against the estate. If things go smoothly, the process could finish in less than a year.
The executor must also settle federal or state income taxes. If challenges arise over the estate, the process could drag on for over a year or much longer. Filing mistakes and accounting errors will also prolong probate.
The paperwork and complications of probate can create numerous headaches. Reviewing the process or preparing estate planning ahead of time can minimize a family’s struggle.