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How Long Does Probate Take

How Long Does Probate Take

One question that I receive from clients on a consistent basis at our first free consultation regards how long the probate process will take. Understanding that they have just lost a loved one and are attempting to begin the healing process, if probate is necessary, it serves as a constant reminder of the pain and suffering they feel as a result of their loss. I am no psychologist, but I believe there is a definite correlation between the length of the probate process and the length of the healing process. I do not believe the grieving and healing process can truly begin until someone has completed the administration of someone’s estate and closed up their affairs. Until that happens, the process can be a constant reminder of the loved lost.

For these reasons, the amount of time necessary to complete the probate process is an important question. As an attorney, I feel it is my sincere and solemn duty to provide you with a vague answer: “It all depends”. Lawyer joke aside, it is hard to estimate and depends on a number of different factors I outline below. Please be advised that I am providing rough estimates for guidance and that actual completion times may vary significantly.

The most important factor contributing to the length of the process is the probate procedure that you choose. In Florida, there are three processes: disposition without administration, summary administration, and formal administration. Disposition without administration and summary administration are the shortest and can take several weeks to a month. You have the option of doing a notice to creditors in a summary administration so if you choose to do so, complete administration will have to wait the three months that publication requires, and you will need to add that time to your calculation.

If you do not qualify for disposition without administration or summary administrations, you are required to proceed with formal administration. It is extremely difficult to estimate the amount of time formal administration could take. I would say that in the best of circumstances, it can take as little as 4 ½ to 5 months. On average, it can take up to a year. If you have beneficiaries that cannot get along, any challenges to the will or other litigation issues, the process can be much longer than that. These factors make an accurate estimation difficult.

Due to the length and the complexity of the formal probate process, the one aspect which you can control and which will have a direct effect on the length of time is your level of involvement and the attorney you choose. You must be confident that you can communicate with your attorney and his/her office and the information exchange is open and continuous. Choose wisely and you can limit the amount of time a probate case is remains open to a minimum.

Hopefully this gives you a little idea of how long the different processes can take. If you are a personal representative, beneficiary, interested person and wish to know more information about the different timetables, please contact my office and our Fort Myers probate attorneys will be happy to review your individual situation and give my best advice. Thanks for reading.

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