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Estate Planning | Probate

How Long Does It Take for Probate To Be Granted?

7 min read
Francesca Toledo, J.D.

by Francesca Toledo, J.D.

The grant of probate, which is part of the initial phase of the probate process, will take you up to six weeks or longer to obtain. A probate court grants probate when a legal representative or executor is appointed to administer a deceased person’s estate. Probate is a lengthy process with many steps. Unbundled Legal Help can connect you with a local lawyer from our network to help you with this.

State-mandated deadlines set time limits on the execution of an estate. If you have questions about a grant of probate and how long it takes, Unbundled Legal Help can answer these questions. Probate can be confusing, but the process can be simplified with the help of a legal professional. Probate is broken down into multiple steps, and the grant of probate occurs in the initial phase of the process.

What Is a Grant of Probate?

A grant of probate is the act of a court giving authority to an individual to be the executor or administrator of a deceased person’s estate. A grant of probate is the next step after filing a petition to open an estate to protect and distribute a deceased loved one’s property and other assets. If the deceased person had a will at the time of death and named an executor, a probate court would issue a grant of probate that gives power to the executor to administer the estate’s affairs, including paying bills.

Suppose the deceased individual passes away without a will. In that case, state law will govern who is designated as the administrator of the person’s estate, and that person would hold the same role and carry the same rights as a person named in a will as an executor. In most cases, the appointed administrator of a deceased person’s estate is a surviving spouse or adult child. However, siblings might be next if a deceased person did not have a surviving spouse or children, including stepchildren.

How Long It Takes To Grant Probate Depends on Many Factors

The time it takes to obtain a grant of probate will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Whether the deceased person passed away with or without a will
  • Whether anyone is contesting the validity of a will
  • The quantity and value of assets at issue
  • The amount of debt at issue (if any) 
  • Anticipated expenses associated with the administration of the estate
  • The present workload of the probate court

Depending on a state’s filing deadlines and requirements for opening an estate, probate may be granted in as little as a few weeks or as long as many months.

How Contesting a Will Can Delay the Grant of Probate

If a person contests the validity of a deceased’s will, and that person files a petition or motion with the court, this could delay probate by many weeks or months. The validity of a will may be contested for many reasons including, among others, the following:

  • Allegations that the deceased suffered from cognitive impairment that prevented them from signing with full knowledge and consent
  • Allegations that the will was fraudulently written and/or signed
  • Allegations that a will has been altered to change the original language or meaning
  • Allegations that the will does not comply with state law and may lack witness signatures and other technical requirements

Contested wills often occur when family members dispute the meaning of a deceased loved one’s will. Unfortunately, the death of a loved one–especially a parent–leads many siblings to cut ties, all because of a misunderstanding or disagreement about the distribution of assets. For example, one family member may assert that a parent intended for child A to receive certain property even if the will indicates that child B is to receive such property.

Understanding the Purpose of Probate

Probate is necessary to distribute a person’s assets and pay a deceased person’s bills. However, in some cases, a person may have few, if any, assets of value to be distributed. Moreover, a person may not have any immediate family members in line to receive property upon the person’s death. As such, probate isn’t always needed.

When You Need Probate

If a person passes away with a will, probate is needed to validate the will. After validating the will, the court grants probate (over objections of any potential will contests). The executor identified in the will is then appointed executor of the estate. Probate is also necessary when a person passes away with assets that must be distributed, and the deceased person passed away without a will.

State law dictates how property and assets are distributed upon death when a will does not exist. Without a will, a deceased person’s wishes are not known, which can leave room for an estranged family member to reap unintended rewards. Probate is granted once a court identifies the administrator of a person’s estate per state law.

Property Subject to Probate

Not all property is subject to probate. Only property in the name of the deceased individual must go through probate. Any home or other real estate owned solely by the deceased must be distributed following either a will or the state’s laws in which the person lived at the time of death. Additional items that may be subject to probate are personal property items, such as vehicles, boats, and art collections, among other items.

Why Does Probate Take So Long?

Lengthy probate can result from the quantity and value of assets. The number of heirs involved, such as a surviving spouse, children, and anyone else identified in a will, can also collectively contribute to the length of a probate proceeding. The sooner a will is validated, if one exists, and the sooner assets are identified and gathered, the sooner probate can move forward. The dedication of the executor or administrator of an estate can also influence how long probate proceedings take.

Consider an Estate Plan To Avoid Probate

Creating a living trust is a popular way to avoid probate. A trust is an arrangement whereby one person, the trustee, holds property or assets in a trust to benefit another person or persons. Upon a person’s death, such assets are immediately transferred to the intended beneficiary or beneficiaries.

A living trust can be revocable, or retracted, while a person is still alive. Upon death, all beneficiaries identified in the living trust will immediately receive the intended property or assets. Living trusts are not subject to probate. Many wills identify the existence of a living trust.

Contact Unbundled Legal Help Today for a Free Consultation

Probate can be an expensive process. Many people take on probate alone by filing forms with the courts and adhering to all requirements. However, because probate can be confusing, and it is easy to make mistakes, seeking the help of a qualified probate lawyer can ensure the process runs smoothly. The cost of a lawyer is a major impediment to individuals seeking legal representation when they really need it. 

With an Unbundled Lawyer, you can spend as little as $500 to $1,500 to begin. Many attorneys charge hundreds of dollars an hour and rack up billable time for minuscule tasks. Unbundled Legal Help’s network of lawyers provide payment plans to fit each client’s situation. In addition, Unbundled’s à la carte approach to legal representation provides a means for you, as a client, to be in control. 

Don’t let an attorney take advantage by charging you for things you can do yourself. Only use an attorney when necessary to provide you with legal advice, appear in court, and handle any other matter that requires a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. 

Unbundled Legal Help has a network of probate lawyers to provide legal representation to clients on an as-needed basis. If you need a probate lawyer, you can pick and choose what you need help with. By handling many of the tasks on your own, you can save money that would otherwise come out of the proceeds of a loved one’s estate. 

Reach out to Unbundled Legal Help today to find out whether a probate lawyer can help you with your situation.

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