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How long will the probate process take?

After a loved one dies, there may be many reasons for wanting the probate process to end quickly. Perhaps you already have a buyer for the deceased’s house, and you need the estate to close so you can complete the transaction. Maybe you have financial reasons for wanting your inheritance quickly. Possibly you are concerned that someone will challenge the will, or maybe you simply want to move forward with life after the loss of your loved one.

Unfortunately, the urgency of your reasons cannot compel the probate process to go any faster. If your loved one left a valid will and the estate is fairly simple, Texas probate can still take at least six months. However, there are some common factors that may slow the process even more.

What’s taking so long?

Your loved one may have thought he or she was doing a good thing by creating an estate plan, especially if the circumstances of the estate or the family are complex. However, probate is a legal process that requires original signatures, the presence of witnesses and other actions that cannot happen digitally. This and other factors mean that certain estate planning steps may actually slow down probate, including any of the following:

  • Designating an executor who lives far away from the estate or from the attorney handling the estate
  • Designating an executor who will spark controversy among the heirs or who is not trustworthy or competent enough for the job
  • Naming a large number of beneficiaries
  • Naming beneficiaries who live too far from the estate or the attorney to drop in for necessary signatures
  • Naming beneficiaries who are difficult to locate
  • Leaving behind a considerable number of creditors, whom the executor must contact and satisfy before moving forward with probate
  • Failing to plan the estate to avoid federal taxes, the filing of which may delay probate for eight months or more
  • Leaving behind complicated assets, such as those in different states or countries, or those that may be challenging to valuate

Of course, it may not be easy to predict whether the heirs of the estate will get along. If they squabble, challenge every step of the executor or dispute the terms of the will, probate may drag on much longer than usual. For a simple estate, the probate process can be relatively quick and streamlined, but it will still take time. As frustrating as it may be, probate is often necessary to ensure the accurate and fair closing of the final legal business of the deceased.