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How Long is Probate?

When beginning the probate process, one of the first things people ask is, "How long will all this take?" The truth is, it varies. In some cases, probate can take as little as nine months if there are no major complications. If there are "issues", as there often are, the entire process may take a year or more.

We represent clients who have lost loved ones in the District of Columbia and Maryland to resolve probate matters as efficiently and effectively as possible. We also serve clients representing decedents who only had property and other assets in the District and Maryland.

Move The Probate Process Along

Fortunately, most of us do not have to “deal” with the business of a deceased loved one every day. That is why a trusted advisor with experience in probate and estate administration is vital. There are numerous steps involved during probate. The process begins when the personal representative (executor) files the will (assuming one exists) with a petition for probate. If there is no will, then then the personal representative will just submit a petition for probate. Depending on the size of the estate, which the personal representative is, where the decedent died, certain details about the decedent's family, etc., additional forms and information needed to be submitted with the petition. After submission of the will and the petition, formal notice must be given to the interested parties. Who the interested parties are is determined case by case. But typically, it will include the spouse, and any children, and may include siblings, parents, grandchildren, and others. Next, the will needs to be validated, and the petition approved

In most cases, this occurs without a hearing. If there is an irregularity with the will or petition or someone contests the will (a caveat) or challenges the petition, there will be a hearing. The court calendars are generally very busy, so probate hearings typically do not occur for a few weeks after the will and petition are filed. The cost of probate immediately gets substantially more expensive if there is a hearing of any sort. The attorneys are the only parties guaranteed to benefit from probate litigation. I have found that probate litigation is often the result of suspicion bourne from secrecy. So I always try to advise my clients upfront to be as transparent and forthright as possible.

Once everything is in order, other steps come into play, including, in no particular order:

  • Letters of administration appointing the personal representative will be issued by the court.

  • The personal representative gathers and accounts for the deceased's assets.

  • The personal representative must account for the deceased's bills and benefits.

  • The personal representative will apply for a taxpayer ID number for the estate and open an estate bank account.

  • The notice of petition will be published by a court-approved newspaper.

  • Creditors will be notified.

  • Various government entities may need to be notified.

This list is not exhaustive of everything that is required in a probate matter. Every probate matter is unique, and there is no specific formula to move through the process. By working with an experienced probate lawyer, you will have an advocate, advising your every move. I invite you to read more about the probate process by referring to other probate articles on our website and giving us a call.

Call Us!

We are here to help if you have lost a loved one or have been nominated to serve as a personal representative. Even if you do not hire us for the entire process, I always advise potential personal representatives that it is best to consult with an experienced probate attorney to determine their initial steps. The probate process is not easy, it is not private, and it is certainly not inexpensive. Getting professional guidance upfront is always wise. Give us a call or text at 301.892.2713 or email us at Our job is to make your loss less difficult to manage.


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