The answer to this question is dependent on the County you live in. Regardless, the probate process can take quite some time and delay the distribution of assets to your heirs.
The probate process begins by retaining us to prepare certain documents that must be filed with the Surrogate’s Court in the County where the decedent was domiciled. Depending on how quickly you can obtain information needed by us, this initial process can take several weeks. At that point, we will submit the papers to the Court.
If all is in order, some Courts can take up to two months to review and process the paperwork. If there are any issues with the papers, or questions raised by the Court, this process can be delayed. One of the primary delays at this point is usually a disgruntled family member or other person who may have been treated disproportionately in the decedent’s Will. Once people start fighting, probate takes on a life of its own.
Finally, after your appointment as Executor, you now must begin the process of administering the decedent’s estate. This includes going to the banks to close and open new accounts, paying bills and expenses, file tax returns and other administrative tasks.
As you can see, the probate process can be lengthy and as a result, clients often want to avoid it. The preferred planning technique to avoid probate is a revocable living trust. If you are willing to implement this technique, a lot of the headaches associated with a lengthy probate process can be avoided.