The Average Probate Processing Times for Wills in Massachusetts

By Beverly Bird

The average time required for the probate process depends on everything going smoothly -- if there are any complications, the time frame can increase significantly. In Massachusetts, probate is usually completed within a year of the date of the testator’s death, though most of the work is generally accomplished within the first nine months. However, complex estates can take up to two and a half years or longer. Several factors are involved, each with their own deadlines.

The average time required for the probate process depends on everything going smoothly -- if there are any complications, the time frame can increase significantly. In Massachusetts, probate is usually completed within a year of the date of the testator’s death, though most of the work is generally accomplished within the first nine months. However, complex estates can take up to two and a half years or longer. Several factors are involved, each with their own deadlines.

Opening Probate

The overall process of opening probate can take up to eight weeks from the time the executor delivers the will to the probate court. A great deal of work is done during this time. The executor must make a comprehensive list of all assets and debts the testator left behind before a petition for probate can be filed. The court will require this information to open probate. Generally, the executor will not take his oath of office and receive his documentation to act on the estate’s behalf sooner than a month after first submitting the will for probate.

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Case Management

When probate is opened, the court assigns the matter to a “track,” or estimated time frame for completion beginning from the date when the executor takes office. In Massachusetts, probate falls into the three- to six-month category. The court prefers that the entire process be completed by this time. If everything goes well and this deadline is met, probate can conceivably be completed within eight months from the time the court received the will if there are no complications or delays at all.

Estate Taxes

Probate time may be extended by the IRS for larger estates when federal estate taxes are due. The executor is responsible for filing the return and paying the tax within nine months from the testator’s date of death. The IRS may or may not require an audit of the return. If it does not, it may issue a closing letter to the estate within six months. If the return is audited, however, the matter may not be resolved and a closing letter may not be issued for up to two years. Probate cannot be closed until the estate receives a closing letter from the IRS.

Will Contests

Will contests are usually the greatest cause of delay in probating a will. They are separate litigations involving discovery, depositions and a trial. Probate cannot be closed until the contest is resolved, either by a judge, a jury or a settlement between the estate and the person challenging the will. When the court receives an objection to a will, the case management track is automatically changed to the eight-month category. A notice for a pretrial conference is sent to all interested parties to begin the litigation and this conference may not even take place until 45 days after the first contest hearing.

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How Long Does an Executor Have to Probate a Will in New York State?

References

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How Long Do Probate Wills Take in Massachusetts?

The time required to probate a will depends on more than the executor’s diligence in getting the job done. The court and the IRS are often involved and their participation might affect the amount of time it takes to settle an estate. In Massachusetts, much of the work in probating a will is completed within approximately nine months, but the entire process usually takes 1 to 2 years.

AZ Statute of Limitations for Contesting a Will

Arizona offers three types of probate proceedings: informal, formal and supervised. Supervised probate is rare and involves continuous court intervention under special circumstances. Most wills are submitted for informal probate, a shorter and usually less expensive process. Probate should be opened within two years of the testator’s death, and objections to the will should also be filed within two years, though there are numerous exceptions.

Time Limits When Contesting a Will

Estate law is not an area that lends itself well to black-and-white answers. Statutes vary from state to state. Compounding that is the desire of courts to preserve the deceased’s wishes at all reasonable costs. Judges can and do waive statutes of limitation for contesting a will if they believe there is good cause, and most state legislatures have layers built into their rules to account for every possible circumstance.

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