If you maintain personal possession of your property up until the time of your death and arrange for its transfer through the terms of a will, it will become probate property. The property is not distributed to the heirs that you name in your last will until the estate has been probated by the court.
For some people an inheritance is an infusion of extra resources. There is no urgency with regard to the actual transfer of the assets. At the same time, if you have been given a bequest, you would want the wishes of the decedent be honored as soon as possible regardless of your level of need.
On the other hand, some people need their inheritances as soon as possible because they were relying on the decedent financially.
Time can be a factor to take into consideration when you are planning your estate. Probate provides valuable protections, and the state does a good job of providing a process that is as efficient as it can possibly be. However, a certain time lag cannot be avoided.
How long is probate going to take? The exact length of the probate process is going to vary based on a number of different factors. The complexity of the case in question will certainly impact the time frame.
The way that the estate is being administered will be a factor as well. The executor of the estate is the individual who handles the estate administration tasks. One executor may be better than the next when it comes to taking care of administration responsibilities in a timely and efficient manner.
State laws regarding time windows allowing interested parties to come forward making claims against the estate would impact the length of probate. The caseload of the jurisdiction would enter into the equation as well.
Suffice to say that simple probate cases will be resolved in a matter of months. Complicated estate cases can be held up in probate for multiple years.
Accelerated Time Frame
If you are concerned about the time frame, you could arrange for the transfer of assets to your loved ones outside of probate when you are planning your estate.
One very popular probate avoidance tool is the revocable living trust.
With these trusts you do not surrender control of the assets while you are living. You can change the terms or revoke the trust entirely if you want to at any time.
After you pass away, the trustee that you choose distributes assets to the beneficiaries according to your wishes outside of the process of probate.
Probate should not be viewed as something that is completely negative. However, you could take steps to arrange for asset transfers outside of probate if you are concerned about the length of the process.