Probate: A long process, especially with litigation

| Jun 18, 2021 | Probate Litigation

The probate process can be long and tedious for those involved, especially if there is a dispute. Probate happens for many estates in Ohio, but when an estate plan is set up correctly and everything goes smoothly, it usually takes between six months and a year.

When there are concerns about will contests, undue influence and other issues, probate may take much longer. In fact, in some cases, it could take years to get to a point where the assets may be distributed to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries.

The basic chronology of probate

Probate is a process with a few specific steps. To start with, the executor files a petition for probate with the court. The executor will need to get a probate bond at this point, so that they have protection in the case they make errors that cost the estate money or other losses.

The court has to approve the executor. If they are, then they will receive the Letters of Administration, which are also known as the Letters Testamentary. These give them the right to manage the estate, sell assets, pay bills and more.

Executors are next required to give notice to creditors and to take inventory of the estate. It may be at this point that problems start to arise, such as if parts of the estate seem to be missing or proof of ownership is unavailable.

Following this, the executor has to pay estate taxes. Finally, the remaining estate is distributed among heirs.

Why does probate take so long?

Probate can be a very long process depending on how the decedent’s estate plan was designed and if their estate was in order prior to death. By using tools like trusts, some peoplare are able to bypass the probate process.

If there are disputes within a family or between creditors, then probate will take longer. If an executor’s role is challenged or someone files a will contest because of discrepancies between new and past wills, then it may be months or years before a resolution is reached.

If you’re facing this kind of litigation in probate court, it’s vital to know the law and how to proceed to protect yourself and the estate.

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