How Quickly Do I Need to Settle an Estate?

Probate is really slowIf you’re accustomed to setting timelines in your life, when it comes to serving in the executor role, you’ll likely find it difficult because settling an estate can be impacted by many things far beyond your control.

The answer to how long it takes to settle an estate when you are serving as an executor is, well, it depends. The process can typically take about a year, but there are several factors to think about.

When a will is filed with the court, it starts the process called probate. The probate court oversees the executor’s actions as he or she completes every step of closing the decedent’s estate. There are many things the probate court does, including making sure that the assets are properly distributed to beneficiaries. Of course, you have no control over the pace of the court. This includes such things as when your file will be reviewed when hearings will take place and so on. That’s all up to the judge and his or her staff.

As executor, you’ll need to get letters of testamentary from the probate court before you can do anything with estate assets, such as bank accounts, autos, property, and investment accounts. You have to wait for the court’s approval to proceed. On the other hand, the probate court may set deadlines for the executor to accomplish specific tasks, like the distribution of the estate assets after an accounting of those assets, has been completed.

 Larger estates obviously take more time to settle than smaller ones. As the asset types become more complex, the time required to spend settling the estate can increase dramatically. For example, if the deceased had ownership interests in a small business, extensive property holdings, or complex investments, it may take longer to organize these, so the beneficiaries receive their distributions as outlined in the will.

Another factor impacting the time to settle an estate has to do with whether or not the person died without a will. If that happens, it can take longer because the probate court has to appoint an estate administrator and more closely monitor the estate.

Some people are great about keeping records in their lifetime. This can really help to expedite the work of an executor.

Beneficiaries and surviving family members who are set to inherit can delay things for several reasons. Some may be grieving and unable to provide required paperwork and information. Others may dispute the will, and some beneficiaries may be hard to locate. Keeping beneficiaries updated about the process and understanding that there will likely be obstacles can be useful, when it comes to both dealing with and avoiding beneficiary-related issues.

Patience, flexibility, and understanding will be vital to you when working through this challenging, complex process.

Reference: executor.com (November 1, 2017) “How Quickly Do I Need to Settle an Estate?”


Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.