It is very difficult to recover from grief after the loss of a loved one. However, it is important to settle a deceased’s estate worth $150,000 or above. The estate includes real estate, money and the property the deceased leaves behind. To ensure that the estate is properly distributed, it is required to go through the California probate process. So, how long does probate take?

While probate cases in California have a reputation of lasting for a long period, that’s not always the case. While some settlements can take place in a few months, others may take a year or even longer. California probate procedures involve many steps. How long it will take to probate a will depends on many factors. The process may slow down due to many complications, including:

  •       The number of beneficiaries
  •       Will contests
  •       Complicated assets
  •       Taxable estate
  •       Absence of a will in the first place

1. Number of Estate Beneficiaries

The calculation is simple. With more beneficiaries, the longer the probate will take to settle. For example, when you file a probate case in California, the attorney needs to send multiple documents back and forth between the beneficiaries. This will require extra time if the beneficiaries are located in many different locations.

Also, all the documents you submit in court require the original signature of the executor; emailed or faxed signatures are not accepted.

2. Disagreement Among Beneficiaries

It is very rare that two beneficiaries, even if they are siblings, agree on the distribution of an estate. Disagreements are inevitable and may dictate how long does probate take to settle.

As an executor, you may reach a solution, but in worse scenarios, beneficiaries may hire their own attorney to monitor the process. However, asking for legal advice and retaining the services of an experienced probate attorney can save you from such situations.

3. Will Contests Can Dictate How Long Probate Takes

The first and most important step in the California probate process is to file a petition in court. Also, you have to submit a written notice of the petition to the concerned parties, as well as have published three times in a newspaper.

During this period, someone may express an objection to invalidate the will. A will contest may be based on one of the following arguments or a combination of them:

  • The will does not meet the proper legal formalities.
  • The will is fraudulent
  • The deceased wrote the will under the undue influence of one of the beneficiaries.
  • The deceased did not have the mental capacity to create a will

When a will contest occurs, the probate proceedings may take longer to settle. Contest wills are usually resolved after long court trials.

4. Deceased Did Not Leave A Will

The estate still requires to be probated even if the deceased has not left a will behind. However, the probate court will be directly involved in each step of the process. First, the judge will appoint an Executor for managing the probate estate. Also, as per the California State law, some heirs will receive bequests.

5. Taxable Estates May Delay the Probate

A court does not close the probate on a taxable estate until it receives a closing letter from the Internal Revenue Service. Also, the court may require a letter from the state taxing authority if state estate taxes are due. From filing an estate tax return to receiving a response from the IRS, the process may take six to eight months.

6. Complicated Estates Take Longer to Probate

Probate of simple and small estates generally can close in a relatively short period of time. For instance, if you have an estate comprising a bank account and minimal personal property, distribution is easy. However, complicated estate assets, such as business shares and real estate, are trickier to distribute among the heirs. Thus, complex and multi-faceted estates may take longer to complete the probate process.

Contact a Probate Lawyer in California

Finally, the length of time for probate also depends on the expertise of your probate attorney. California Probate process can be tricky for you to handle on your own. Don’t worry as the Legacy Lawyers can help you navigate the probate process. We offer legal services from completing the paperwork and filing the petition, to representing you in court.