Estates that are not required to file a federal estate tax return and are not involved in litigation can usually be closed between six and nine months. If a federal estate tax return is required, the estate must remain open for two years. However, certain distributions can be made to the heirs and beneficiaries soon after the estate is opened.
That being said, the length of the probate process for specific estates depends on two things:
- The overall size and makeup of the estate, and
- The level of preparation done by the decedent prior to passing.
Even if an estate does not require a probate administration, all estates must be settled. Estate settlement is the process by which a decedent’s total estate, which includes both probate and non-probate assets, is settled. This includes filing documents, paying outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing assets.