Florida residents going through the probate process often have many questions. The process may seem complicated and burdensome. Although there are various steps and requirements, having guidance can be helpful. Even with everything under control, one of the biggest questions people still have is how long they can expect the process to take.
There is no definite answer to this question, since each estate has its own set of unique circumstances that affect how long the process takes. However, every probated estate must remain open for 3 months to allow any creditors a chance to object to how the assets will be distributed. If there are no objections, and all other steps are completed efficiently, the probate process could be completed within 5 to 6 months.
Once an estate enters probate, a personal representative is appointed. The personal representative has many responsibilities, one of which is handing any claims by creditors or selling any property. If probating the estate involves either of these scenarios, the process will naturally take longer.
Creditor claims or filing a tax return can prolong the process
Taxes can also affect the length of the probate process. Some estates may need to file a federal tax return. After the court issues letters of administration to the appointed personal representative, the personal representative has 12 months to file the final accounting of the estate, which can allow the estate to be closed.
The personal representative does not need to wait out the full 12 months. They can file the final accounting before the 12-month deadline if it is completed. Estates that need a federal tax return filed must file the return within 9 months after the death of the decedent. Once it is filed, 12-month period for the personal representative to file the final accounting begins. Clearly, the process could take significantly longer for estates that must file a tax return.
All these tax-related deadlines can be extended, but unless there is a valid reason that the steps cannot be completed within the timeframe, an extension should not be necessary. Having accurate information and instructions can be beneficial.