When Does Last Will & Testament Have to Be Filed in Probate?

By Regan Rondinelli-Haberek

When someone dies, leaving a will, it must be filed in the appropriate probate court to be legally effective. The court must verify that it is, indeed, the decedent's will and that it has been property executed under state law. The personal representative, or executor, named in the will cannot begin estate administration until probate has been opened.

When someone dies, leaving a will, it must be filed in the appropriate probate court to be legally effective. The court must verify that it is, indeed, the decedent's will and that it has been property executed under state law. The personal representative, or executor, named in the will cannot begin estate administration until probate has been opened.

Time Limits for Filing a Will

Whether there is a time limit for filing a will for probate depends on state law. For instance, Missouri law requires that a will be filed for probate within one year from the date of death. If probate is not opened within this time, the will becomes invalid and a different process must be used to settle the decedent's estate. Conversely, in New York there is no time limit prescribed by law to file a will for probate. Regardless of state law, it is wise for an executor to file the will in a timely manner. An executor has a duty to preserve estate assets, and as time passes, real property may decrease in value and the value of stocks and other investments may decline as the market fluctuates. Also, witnesses to the will may die or leave the area. Check with the local probate court for time limits to file a will for probate in your state.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Does the Executor of a Will Have to Use an Attorney to Execute the Will?

References

Related articles

Does Property Have to Go Through Probate Court?

Probate court handles wills and estates, and the disposition of a deceased person's property according to state law. Probate is necessary whether or not you have a will, but most states allow simplified probate for estates under a specified value. Anytime an estate is subject to probate, all forms of property within the estate are involved, with some important exceptions.

When Is a Will Filed in Probate Court?

A will must be filed in probate court before commencing legal proceedings to settle the estate. Probate is the legal procedure used to appoint a person to oversee the estate's affairs, settle disputes among heirs and distribute the deceased person's assets in accordance with the will's provisions.

Where Are Last Will & Testaments Recorded?

Whether you're looking for a deceased relative’s last will or are just curious as to when wills become public record, most states have similar procedures for filing wills for probate after death, even though the names of the public offices may differ slightly.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

The Amount of Time Allowed to Probate a Will in Pennsylvania

State laws vary with regard to probate. Probate is a judicial process where a special court oversees the administration ...

What Is the Meaning of Settle Estate?

A Last Will and Testament contains instructions for the distribution of a person's assets, also referred to as the ...

How Long to Probate a Will in Texas?

State laws govern the process by which a person's assets are distributed after he dies. If the deceased, known as ...

Is a Will a Public Record in Illinois?

The law typically refers to individuals who draft wills as “testators.” In a will, the testator appoints a ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED