How long does probate take?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2020 | Estate planning

When an individual passes away in Wisconsin, their estate might go into probate. If you’re one of their heirs or an individual named in their will, you’re probably wondering how long probate will take. Unfortunately, there’s no way to give an exact answer. There are several factors that can influence the speed of the probate process, and many of these factors are beyond your control.

What can delay probate?

If the individual didn’t leave behind a will, the process could take much longer than it would normally. A judge will have to nominate someone for estate administration and figure out how to divide the estate according to the state’s laws. Even if the individual did leave behind a will, the location of their will executor is also a major factor. If the executor lives nearby, it should be a simple matter for them to talk to the estate law attorney and divide the estate according to the individual’s wishes. But if the executor lives in another state, they’ll have to arrange for travel and possibly go back and forth, which delays the process.

Family disputes can also extend the probate process. If everyone’s in agreement, the estate can be divided, and everyone will move on with their lives. But certain heirs or beneficiaries might have disagreements about their share of the state. They may even hire their own attorneys to dispute the matter in court. Similarly, if someone has reason to believe that the will isn’t completely valid, they might hire an attorney to help them contest the will in front of a judge.

If the estate has a lot of debts, that can also delay the process. The executor will have to figure out how to pay off the debts, which could involve selling off parts of the estate. The estate executor will also have to pay off taxes and other fees before the heirs can receive their share.

Should you hire an attorney during probate?

If you have an issue during the probate process, you might wish to hire an attorney. An attorney may help you contest the will, fight for a fair share of the assets or attempt to have the executor removed if they’re not acting in the estate’s best interests.