One of the first questions a client will ask me when coming to my office for
probate is how long is this going to take? (The second, of course, is
how much is it going to cost.) Potential executors are overwhelmed with the thought of managing someone
else’s funeral, medical bills, mortgage and house. And, of course,
beneficiaries want to be paid. Some would like their inheritance yesterday.
A good rule of thumb is about eight months to a year. There are many variables
which determine how quickly the case may take, but the typical timeline
for a probate in Alameda County or the surrounding area is as follows:
- If the future executor hires an attorney right away (which rarely happens)
then it will likely take about 2 weeks to get the attorney the necessary
information to file a petition for probate.
- The court will set a date about 45 days from the filing of the petition
for probate. If all of the necessary information is provided to the court
and there are no objectors, then letters are issued to the executor or
- This begins the time for filing creditor claims. One of the major differences
between the length of time a trust and a probate administration takes,
is the mandatory four month period, after the issuance of letters, for
the creditors of the decedent to file a claim against the estate.
- While awaiting the credit claim period to run, the executor will gather
the decedent’s assets, file an inventory with the court, pay valid
creditors and decide whether to sell the family home. The length of this
process varies, depending on whether all of the assets are known, if there
are major bills, and whether the executor is receiving any help from family
- At the end of the creditors’ claim period, if the assets and debts
have been properly accounted for, the executor will file a final accounting,
and a petition for final distribution with the court. Once filed, it may
take another six weeks to get approved, if everything is done correctly.
Then, the executor may begin the process of distributing the estate to
the heirs and beneficiaries.
One can see that the business of distributing an estate can be a long process.
This is why executors often hire an attorney to help with the process
so that few mistakes are made and the process can go as speedily as possible.