Thursday, April 18, 2019

How Long Does Probate Take?

Many different factors will affect how long probate will take in Texas, but the short answer is that probate is not usually a fast process. Probate involves many steps, and each phase can take weeks or months, even years. To determine how long your loved one’s probate process will take, you must speak with an experienced Texas probate lawyer.

Filing the Will

The executor of the estate usually has four years after the person’s death to file the will with the probate court and start the long, slow process. If the executor misses this deadline, the state will treat it as if the person died intestate (without a valid will). In that situation, the terms of the will are irrelevant. The probate court will distribute the assets according to the laws of intestacy, not according to the instructions in the will.
The heirs could be sitting around for four years waiting for their inheritance and then not receive what their deceased loved one promised them, because the executor failed to file the will in all that time. This situation underscores the importance of using a Texas probate attorney to handle your estate administration. 

Giving Notice to the Public

After the executor files the will with the probate court, the court provides public notice that the executor filed the will. The executor has to wait at least 10 business days before having a hearing to admit the will to probate.

Notifying Beneficiaries

The executor has to notify the beneficiaries that the judge admitted the will to probate. The executor has to send the notice letter, the court’s order admitting the will, and a copy of the will to all beneficiaries by certified mail within 60 days of the admission of the will. The executor has 90 days from the date of the order to file an affidavit with the probate court that he gave proper notice to the beneficiaries.

Notice to Creditors

Creditors of the decedent get notice through the local newspaper. The executor has to publish a notice to creditors within one month of getting authority from the probate court to handle the estate. The court gives the executor authority to act through granting Letters Testamentary.

Factors That Can Delay the Probate of a Will in Texas

Numerous issues could slow down a will going through probate. Here are some of the common things that can add time to the process:

  • A creditor or beneficiary files a claim. The executor has to assess whether the claim is valid, then get permission from the court to pay the claim.
  • Someone files a will contest. The court will have to go through a formal procedure with witnesses and a hearing to determine if there is a reason to invalidate the will. This process can add many months to probate.
  • If the estate includes real property in other states, the executor might have to open probate cases in those states.
  • Sometimes a will instructs the executor to sell real estate and distribute the proceeds among certain beneficiaries. The sale of the property could take months or longer. 

How Long the Probate Process Takes

The amount of time it can take for a will to go through probate in Texas will depend on the facts of each case. A small, simple estate can go through the process in far less time than a large, complicated estate in which creditors or beneficiaries file claims or someone disputes the will.

Schedule a consult with one of our experienced probate lawyers today. Our Texas probate attorneys can protect your loved ones and provide guidance for you on how long probate might take in your situation.

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