One of the most common questions asked of estate and probate lawyers is how long the probate process in California should last. It’s an important question because most probate can be a tedious process.
The Average Amount of Time for the Probate Process in California
For well planned estates and small estates, the average amount of time for the probate process in California is a little less than a year. There are several factors that affect the amount of time that probate will last:
- Getting the court hearing scheduled. When the probate matter is filed, the first hearing will be scheduled. The court must be notified within 30 days of the death. The California Courts’ website has a valuable page that can help you determine if probate is required. It also recommends that you get legal advice from an attorney. The probate clerk will set the hearing date after a Form DE-111 is brought to them. This is filed with the probate clerk in the county where the decedent resided. Depending on how many probate cases are filed, the hearing may not be scheduled for two or three months. If the probate court isn’t overwhelmed, the hearing date will be much sooner. There’s no real way to determine just how long it will take between filing the DE-111 and the hearing date without talking with the probate clerk.
- Whether there are creditors. The probate process in California can take more time if there are creditors. Creditors have the legal right to file a claim against the estate. While there is a deadline to file claims, creditors may fight with the estate administrator or executive about the claim or payment over a valid claim. Of course, there’s also the chance that not all creditors are known. The research it may take to determine if there are any creditors and trying to contact them can also make the probate process take longer.
- Selling a home or other real estate. While it is legal to sell a home or other real estate that is involved in the probate process, there are certain disclosures that must be made. The length of time it takes to sell the property will affect the time it takes to complete the probate process.
- Disputes related to the estate. This could include fighting over who is (and isn’t) an heir regardless of whether there is a will, who does or doesn’t have ownership rights over property, tax problems, creditors, etc. The more disputes that exist, the longer the probate process will take.
Are You an Heir Looking to Collect from an Estate?
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