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.

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.

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How Long Does It Take to Get a Beneficiary's Inheritance?

References

Related articles

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.

How Long Does It Take for a New Jersey Inheritance Settlement?

If someone names you as a beneficiary in a New Jersey will, plan on waiting a minimum of nine months before you receive the bequest. The executor of the estate -- the person named in the will to oversee the probate process -- must complete several court-ordered procedures before the estate can settle. If the executor is efficient and manages her time well, she might close the estate immediately after statutory time frames. However, most settlements occur about a year after the executor enters the will for probate. Large estates that involve payment of estate taxes might take longer.

Probate Laws in Missouri

When someone dies in Missouri or dies owning property in Missouri, Missouri’s probate laws outline the procedures for processing the decedent’s estate, including determining whether the decedent’s will is valid, how to prove its validity in court, and who receives a decedent's property if he died without a valid will. These probate laws are located in Missouri Revised Statues, Chapter 474, formally known as the Missouri Probate Code.

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

Related articles

AZ Statute of Limitations for Contesting a Will

Arizona offers three types of probate proceedings: informal, formal and supervised. Supervised probate is rare and ...

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

An executor can invest as much time as is necessary to completely settle an estate in New York. However, if the ...

When Will Heirs Receive an Inheritance After Probate?

Probate is the process by which a court authenticates an individual's will, and grants a personal representative the ...

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 ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED