Losing a loved one can be overwhelming. Not only are you experiencing loss, but there also tends to be a list of tasks for loved ones to complete.
If you are the named executor or the person that will handle the loved one’s affairs, in addition to making funeral arrangements, you may need to start the probate process. When you do not know what to expect, probate can seem like an intimidating process.
Here’s what you should know about probate and how long you can expect it to take.
What happens during probate?
In general, probate is the process of analyzing your loved one’s debts and assets and creating a plan for wrapping up his or her final affairs. Typically, probate includes tasks such as:
- Filing a petition with the court
- Creating an inventory of his or her assets
- Discovering his or her remaining debts
- Locating heirs (or beneficiaries if a will)
- Distributing assets according to the will or court order
Typically, one person is responsible for overseeing the probate process. When there is someone listed in the will, they are known as an executor. If there is no will, or the will does not name an executor, the court will appoint someone to be the administrator. The executor and the administrator have the same job; the difference is in how they were appointed.
How long does the process take?
The process can be fairly straightforward when your loved one’s will includes all the details you need for probate. However, the process can take significantly longer if there are unknown debts, missing beneficiaries or heirs, sale of real property or multiple locations involved (such as real estate in another state). Factors such as these can delay probate.
In most cases, California probate courts want the process completed within one year. However, when there are other considerations, you can get an extension to have more time to complete the probate tasks.
Probate can be a complex process and is typically not something you want to try to complete on your own. You should talk to an experienced professional about getting through probate.