The probate process is used to verify a Last Will and Testament and to assure that the estate assets are distributed according to the terms of the Will. Once completed, the estate is closed and probate is complete, but how long does that take? Unfortunately, the answer is: it depends.
The Probate Process
Probate is necessary because it gives a person the legal authority to deal with the assets of the deceased. This person is called the Executor or the Administrator of the estate. The Executor assures that all assets are distributed according to a Will or Ohio law, but any outstanding claims, such as taxes or unpaid bills, must first be settled.
The process occurs in Probate Court in the county where the decedent resided. The Judge supervises the Executor as he or she performs the tasks of settling the estate, including all land, personal possessions, bank accounts and other assets. Once all claims are met, assets are distributed and probate is complete.
How Long Does Probate Take?
There are many factors that impact how long probate will take. In Ohio, estates valued at $35,000 or less are usually settled within a few months. For larger estates, probate can last more than a year. Factors that can impact the time needed to complete the probate process are:
- Complexity. Situation in which the deceased had several different types of assets, out of state property, difficult to sell real estate, business ownership and unusual assets such as artwork, will increase the complexity of the probate and the time needed to complete it.
- Challenges to the Will. If heirs, beneficiaries or those who thought they would be beneficiaries object to the legality of the Will or its terms, probate cannot be completed until these issues are resolved. Further, if the heirs or beneficiaries cannot be located, the probate process will be extended.
- Notification of Creditors. If a Creditor has filed a claim against the decedent’s assets, then the Executor must determine which claims are valid, invalid or already settled and take appropriate action. The number of creditors and the validity of the claims, and whether there are sufficient assets to pay these claims, will impact the probate process.
Generally, straightforward probate cases take about nine months to complete in Ohio, but when other problems arise, the probate process can easily take over a year.
Attorney Christina M. Hronek, and Hronek Law LLC, has the skills and expertise to guide an estate through the probate process. Her work in estate planning, including trusts, can help a family avoid the probate process or limit the assets subject to probate. Contact her today for help with the probate process or to learn how she can help protect your assets and plan for the future by creating an effective estate plan.