Many people seek to avoid or minimize probate because of how long the process can take. If you have never gone through probate, you might believe it takes a lot of time before it finally finishes. In reality, probate can vary in length. Sometimes probate lasts as little as nine months, or it may take two years, or possibly even longer. It depends upon the circumstances.

According to FindLaw, a number of variables affect how long probate will take. A large estate may take longer to process than a smaller one. An estate with a lot of outstanding taxes, debts or tax problems will likely need more time to go through probate than estates with few or no outstanding taxes or debts. Typically, the probate process does not last more than 24 months following the date the decedent passed away.

Complications often lengthen the probate process. One or more persons may challenge the will of the decedent. Creditors may lay claim to estate assets. And if a decedent passed away without making out a will, state intestate laws will process the estate, which may add more months or even years to probate.

Within a typical probate timeline, certain events usually take a certain amount of time. To prepare for probate ordinarily takes one to four months. These steps involve proving that a will is valid, identifying heirs, and choosing an executor. The process of distributing assets to beneficiaries and issuing a discharge order often takes anywhere from nine to eighteen months. The final conclusion of probate may need up to twenty-four months for completion.

However, anything could complicate the aforementioned timeline of events. If another party contests the estate, the probate process may lengthen beyond two years. Sometimes estate battles can last for over a decade. The potential for conflict and prolonged probate is why many people seek to eliminate possible battles with their heirs before a person dies and the probate process can begin.