How fast is fast? Well, with probate time sort of stands still. A traditional California probate takes 7 months minimum to complete. I will lay out the timeline below but you can also visit my graphical view of this at http://www.californiaprobate.info/probate/timeline. It can longer… much longer… but you won’t find a probate being finished sooner than 7 months. However, that’s not to say you won’t be able to take a lot of action during that 7 months. Here is a basic run down on the timeline:
Sign written fee agreement with experienced probate attorney
Prepare and file petition for probate with the probate Court
Lodge will with Court
File bond waivers and other similar documents with Court
Publication in local newspaper
File order and letters with Court before first Court date
If bond is going to be required get it filed before the Court date if amount is certain.
– APPROXIMATELY 6-7 weeks later first Court date is had –
Assuming your attorney did everything correctly an Order for probate will be signed by the Judge and Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration will issue.
Obtain tax identification number (aka: TIN, EIN or Tax ID) from the IRS website at irs.gov
Notify California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) of estate administration, notify California Department of Health Care Services (“Medi-Cal”), notify county assessor and file parent-child exclusion form with county.
Work on probate estate during this 4 month period: insure property, marshall assets, sell assets, clear up ambiguities in will, settle disputes, notify creditors, pay funeral expenses, pay taxes, file inventory, etc….
As that 4 month probate period ends start working on the FINAL PETITION or FINAL ACCOUNTING. Be ready to file it 4 months after Letters were first issued.
Your final Court date will be about 6-7 weeks after filing the petition.
Assuming everything was done right the Court will order the final distributions. You should make payments, get receipts, and then file for your final discharge.
In some cases probate is longer than 7 months as you might want to hold back a reserve to pay unknown creditors, taxes, liabilities. However, absent any of these concerns get the probate done, get discharged, and get on with life 7 months after you started!
Contact me to discuss what your probate case timeline will look like! -John