The probate process can take several months to over a year to execute. Because no two states are the same, the length of time it takes to complete probate varies on a case-by-case basis.
However, the presence of numerous factors is very likely to cause delays in the process, including personal disputes and logistical difficulties.
The number of beneficiaries, as well as their geographic location, can prolong probate resolution. If an estate has three or more beneficiaries who need to review and complete the necessary paperwork, the courts must notify each party and wait for confirmation and completed paperwork during each phase of the process, which can delay progress at various stages.
When beneficiaries reside away from the courts handling probate proceedings, it also takes additional time to complete correspondence by mail when they cannot be present in person.
Often, beneficiaries will contest a will or hire their own counsel, extending the proceedings due to the added legal complexity or familial disputes.
Will and estate considerations
Probate proceedings see delays when the deceased has assets in multiple states, when it is difficult to determine the value of some assets or when the terms of the will need clarification or validation. The more complicated an estate’s assets, the longer it generally takes to review, analyze and distribute them.
As well, some estates must file estate tax returns, which can add months to the probate process while the IRS processes those returns.
These issues can essentially put probate proceedings on hold until the circumstances see resolution.