For the average person, one of the primary motivations for creating an estate plan is to ensure that their loved ones are provided for after their death. One thing that people often fail to consider though, is how long it will take for their loved ones to actually receive the assets earmarked for them in that estate plan. To help you create a successful estate plan, a Glastonbury probate attorney at Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. explains how long it typically takes to probate an estate in Connecticut.
Understanding the Probate Process
Probate is the term given to the legal process that eventually transfers those estate assets to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate. Most estates are required to go through some form of probate. Along with transferring estate assets, probate also serves to ensure that debts of the estate, including federal gift and estate taxes, are paid as well as providing a forum for resolving any challenges to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. If an estate is required to go through the formal probate process, common steps in that process include:
- Identifying, locating, and valuing all estate assets.
- Opening the probate of the estate by filing a petition, along with an official death certificate, in the appropriate court.
- Notifying creditors of the estate that probate is underway.
- Identifying, locating, an notifying beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate that the estate is being probated.
- Reviewing and approving or denying creditor claims.
- Prioritizing and paying approved claims.
- Selling assets, if necessary, to pay creditors.
- Defending any challenges to the Will or litigating any claims made by creditors that were denied.
- Calculating any paying federal (and state, if applicable) gift and estate taxes
- Effectuating the legal transfer of the remaining assets to the named beneficiaries and/or legal heirs of the estate.
How Long Will It Take for an Estate to Get through Probate in Connecticut?
Because every estate is unique, the best way to get an idea how long it will take to probate a specific estate is to consult with an experienced probate attorney. In Connecticut, you can expect it to take a minimum or about six months to probate even a relatively simple estate if that estate is required to go through formal probate. Creditors have three months from the date notice was provided within which to file claims against the estate. Because the probate process cannot wrap up until that time period runs and all claims have been reviewed, you can expect it to take six months or longer for a relatively simple estate. In addition, several other factors can impact the time it takes to probate an estate, such as:
- Qualification for a small estate alternative to formal probate. Connecticut, like most states, offers an alternative to formal probate for small estates that qualify. The ability to use a small estate alternative can dramatically shorten the time necessary to get through the probate process.
- The size and complexity of estate assets. As a general rule, the more valuable and complex the estate’s probate assets are, the longer it will take to probate the estate. A large estate can easily take more than a year to probate.
- Existence of probate avoidance tools and strategies in the decedent’s estate plan. A well thought out estate plan can include several helpful probate avoidance tools and strategies that can significantly reduce the time the estate spends in probate. Leaving behind as few probate assets as possible, for example, is an excellent probate avoidance strategy. Some assets, such as assets held in a trust, are considered non-probate assets and bypass the probate process altogether.
- Conflict and litigation. If someone files a Will contest, the ensuing litigation can add months, even years, to the amount of time it takes to probate the estate.
Contact a Glastonbury Probate Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about probating an estate, or you need assistance serving as the Personal Representative of an estate, contact an experienced Glastonbury probate attorney at Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. by calling (860) 548-1000 to schedule an appointment.