Froerer & Miles

How Long Does the Formal Probate Process Take?

By Robert L. Froerer on November 18, 2019

Gavel and law bookLosing a loved one is difficult. As you’re grieving, there may be added strain when dividing the deceased’s estate and settling all of their unfinished business. That’s when it’s important to speak with a probate attorney. The lawyers of Froerer & Miles have helped countless people in Ogden, Layton, and Salt Lake City, UT with probate matters and issues regarding wills and trusts.

Below, we want to consider what happens during the probate process. We’ll note how long the process takes on average in the state, and what could slow the process down.

What Happens During Probate

Probate is a process in which a deceased person’s outstanding debts and tax obligations are paid, and their assets are gathered and distributed to heirs and inheritors. Utah probate law gives people up to three years to file a probate application or petition.

How Long Does the Process Usually Take?

That can vary.

In the state of Utah, the entire probate process can take as little as four to five months. This assumes that the process proceeds quickly and there are no impediments to paying debts and dividing the remaining assets.

Since the process is not always ideal, it’s important to keep in mind that the probate process can take several months and possibly years as complications arise.

What Slows Down the Probate Process?

Some common issues that complicate the probate process include:

  • There Is No Will - If a deceased loved one did not leave a will, the court will be much more involved in the process.
  • Contesting the Will - Even if there is a will, its validity may be contested on a number of grounds. It may be contended that the will was not drafted properly. It may also be argued that one of the beneficiaries had undue influence over the deceased at the time the will was drafted or amended, or that the deceased did not write the will with full control of their mental faculties.
  • Disagreements Among Beneficiaries - Disagreements among beneficiaries don’t need to involve contests over the will. If multiple beneficiaries hire their own lawyers to oversee the probate process, disputes may arise that cause the process to drag.
  • Settling Many Debts - If a deceased loved one had many outstanding debts or tax bills, the process will not end until these matters are resolved.
  • Complicated Assets - If there are family businesses and complicated assets and interests that have to be divided, it can take more time to determine which beneficiary receives what.

Is It Possible to Avoid Probate?

The probate process can be avoided in some cases if you create a living trust or you designate beneficiaries on retirement or investment accounts. It’s important to keep this in mind as you’re engaged in estate planning and working with a financial planner.

How a Probate Attorney Can Help

The probate process can be long and drawn out, and it’s important that you look out for your best interests as disputes arise. Working with a skilled attorney will give you better insight into the process, and offer a strong advocate for you should disputes or complications occur among beneficiaries.

Learn More About Probate

If you live in the Salt Lake City area and require legal assistance and guidance, be sure to contact a skilled probate attorney. The Froerer & Miles team is here to help. You can reach our Ogden law office by phone at (801) 614-2934.

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