You might think that after you die, someone reads your will and your executor divides your assets in a short period of time. However, this is not typically the case for most estates, and many undergo the formal probate process.
According to the American Bar Association, probate refers to the legal process where the state recognizes a will and then appoints an executor to take care of administering the estate. There is no set timeline for how long the probate process takes, and many factors can affect its duration.
Factors that affect the probate process’ length
In many cases, the probate process will take a year or less, and for some estates, the process concludes within just a few months. But for larger, more complex estates with multiple parties involved, the probate process can extend for several years. Many factors affect the length of probate, including where the executor lives, how many beneficiaries there are in the will, if any of the beneficiaries disagree and if someone is likely to contest the terms of the will.
What to know about avoiding probate
Proactively planning can help you reduce the extent of the probate process and even prevent some of your assets from going through this legal process. For example, many assets, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, have listed beneficiaries, so probate does not apply.
While you may want to prevent your estate from going through probate altogether, this is not always possible. As you create your estate plan, take steps to create a solid plan that allows for the seamless transfer of assets to your beneficiaries.