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I Just Want This Probate Finished!


After a loved one dies, their money and property must be distributed to the right people, either according to their will or the state’s default distribution plan (found in its “intestacy” statute). While most people want the settlement process to be done ASAP, probate can take between 18 and 24 months (even before COVID). Yes, you heard that right. In some instances, the process can take much longer. The time delays create unnecessary stress, especially for families who need access to those accounts or property.


Five Reasons Probate Takes So Long

There are many reasons why the probate process takes so long. Here are five of the most common:


1. Paperwork - Managing probate-required paperwork can be a monumental undertaking with structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines.


2. Complexity - Estates with numerous or complicated accounts or property simply take longer to probate, as there are more items to be accounted for and valued.


3. Probate court caseload - Most probate courts are dealing with high caseloads and limited staff.


4. Challenges to the will - Heirs, beneficiaries, and those who thought they would be beneficiaries, can object to and challenge the will’s instructions and legal requirements. While state law dictates the length of the time period during which they must object, will challenges can add years to the probate process. Some of the most common challenges include assertions that the will-maker was:

  • Lacking testamentary capacity (i.e., lacking the legal or mental ability to make a will)

  • Delusional