When Will Heirs Receive an Inheritance After Probate?

By Regan Rondinelli-Haberek

Probate is the process by which a court authenticates an individual's will, and grants a personal representative the authority to marshal and distribute the estate's assets. Probate typically lasts many months, but when you receive your inheritance depends on many factors.

Probate is the process by which a court authenticates an individual's will, and grants a personal representative the authority to marshal and distribute the estate's assets. Probate typically lasts many months, but when you receive your inheritance depends on many factors.

Opening Probate

The probate process begins when the decedent's original will, along with supporting documents, is presented to the court. Required supporting documents differ by state. For instance, in New York, a petition must be submitted detailing all interested parties and all assets known at the time of filing. As administration of the estate progresses, additional documents must be filed with the court, such as an inventory of assets. If these documents are not properly completed, they will be returned by the court for correction, delaying administration of the estate. Filing accurately executed documents can make sure the process goes forward in a timely manner.

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Notification of Interested Parties

Generally, all individuals named as beneficiaries need to be notified that probate has been opened. Additionally, anyone who's not named in the will but who would typically inherit under state law in the absence of a will -- a child, for example -- must be notified. This notification process can often be the most lengthy part of probate. Many times individuals who must be notified are scattered throughout the country and abroad, making them difficult to locate. Also, when someone is unexpectedly left out of a will, she may feel slighted or suspect some wrongdoing. This can result in the will being contested in court, which can lengthen the probate process.

Statutes of Limitation

Once the will has been accepted for probate, there's a certain length of time during which claims on the estate must be presented. A creditor has a right to be paid from the proceeds of the estate, but he has only a certain amount of time, usually less than one year, to present his claim. This time limit is important for the timing of inheritances. If inheritances are distributed before this time limit has expired, and a creditor comes forward with a valid claim, the executor may be held personally liable for this debt. This means that the executor must wait until the time for creditors to present their claims has expired. You can check with your local probate court for the appropriate time limit in your state.

The Nature of Assets in an Estate

The nature of your inheritance may also affect when you receive it. For instance, many times an estate will consist of one or more bank accounts and a piece of real property. In this instance, probate should be relatively simple and you will typically receive your inheritance within the year. However, if assets are more complicated -- for example, perhaps the decedent owned the asset with other individuals -- the process can become more lengthy.

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What Happens to an Estate Before an Executor Is Appointed?

References

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What to Do When Someone Dies Without Leaving a Will?

When someone dies without a will or other estate planning direction, this is legally known as dying "intestate." Intestate estates are distributed to heirs according to state statutes. Spouses and children are first in line to inherit intestate estates. If there is no spouse or children, then next of kin inherit. An intestate estate must pass through probate court before it is distributed to heirs. If there are no relatives, an intestate estate passes to the state.

How Long Does an Executor of a Will Have to Settle an Estate?

An executor has certain responsibilities and requirements he must meet before settling, or closing, an estate. If he manages the estate improperly and distributes assets before settling with creditors and paying taxes, he could be held personally liable for monies owed. While the probate process usually takes six months to a year, it can take longer if the executor delays his duties or if the estate is complicated.

Undue Influence on Wills in Nevada

Wills are designed to reflect the wishes of the deceased and when undue influence occurred in drafting the will, you might have the right to challenge the validity of the document. Nevada law provides that only interested persons may challenge a will and only within a certain time frame. Although undue influence is a common claim, it is somewhat difficult to prove because it is often based on circumstantial evidence.

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