How Long Does a Probate Take in Court?

When it comes to passing on one’s estate, going through probate is a typical option that you may fall into as a beneficiary (it’s not your fault!). You can either put everything you own in a trust, or it will have to go through probate in order to properly pass on to the next owner. A probate is used to transfer title from your parents or any person to a next-of-kin, an heir, or somebody else. The assets have to go through probate unless they are in a trust. Though this is a common route many people take, there is not a standard amount of time one can expect with the courts. The amount of time it takes for probate to go through court typically depends on the individual case and if there are any disagreements or disruptions. 

When is Probate Necessary?

The specifications vary depending on the state but, generally speaking, probate is required any when assets are not  (1) in a living trust (2) beneficiary designated or (3) in Joint Tenancy. This process is also required to pay outstanding bills will be paid upon someone’s death. 

How Does Probate Work in California?

First, you will file a petition and it starts a clock that will prompt the court to schedule a hearing in the following months for appointment of a representative. Then, a notice of hearing will be published in a local newspaper a few times. If there is a will, everyone listed in the will should be notified. Again, if there is a will, it will then need to be verified. Next, it is time to get possession of all the assets from the person who is passed that are now going to probate. Any payments to creditors will then be settled, and so will the estate tax, if it applies to this estate. Then, the probate will have a proper closing to finalize all details and final payments of fees. 

How Long Does a Probate Take? 

As we mentioned before, the timing can be tricky. In my probates that I’ve done over the past couple of years, it is usually a minimum of 10 to 24 months to get from start to finish. But, it can take years, depending on how much fighting occurs between creditors and beneficiaries. When you start a probate, you basically open up the channels for everybody to come file their claim or lose it. With this opening comes the opportunity for lawsuits to be filed and creditors to be paid, and that could take a long time. 

I’ve had a probate open for 11 years, and it’s still not closed because of new petitions that keep creeping up into the process. On average, a general probate takes around two years. One to two years from start to finish is a great estimate for a probate when there is little disruption and attorneys are on top of things.
Your next step is to join our facebook group called “Parents Protecting Assets in California”. We provide valuable information on protecting assets from future in-laws and creditors!