Like almost any legal proceeding, when asked ‘how long will this take?’ the answer is almost always invariably, ‘well, that depends.’ Despite what you might think, that answer is not a way of avoiding the question; how long a court proceeding might take really does depend on the particulars of the case.

While most probate court proceedings are wrapped up in less than a year, some matters could potentially make things go much faster or much slower.

Recently in New York, many legal proceedings relating to the courts have had to be conducted remotely because of COVID guidelines. This, too, could potentially play a factor in how long a case may take to reach its conclusion.

How Long Can the Probate Process Take?

The average time for probate in New York is somewhere between seven to fifteen months from beginning to end.

However, there are examples where the probate process has been wrapped up in a matter of only two months.

On the other hand, there are also examples of probate taking years to complete, though few ever go on for more than three years in total.

What Could Cause Potential Delays in Probate Court?

The leading cause for delays in probate courts is if someone steps forward to contest the will. Maybe they didn’t get anything or got less than they were expecting, or maybe they wish to contend that the will was written at a time when the decedent was not in complete control of their mental faculties.

Particularly in cases when there is no will, there might arise conflict between supposed beneficiaries, which can draw things out. Additionally, there are instances where it is difficult to track down certain beneficiaries in order for proper distribution of assets.

If the decedent passed on with a number of outstanding debts to creditors, those would also need to be resolved.

Is it Possible to Speed Things Along?

The most assured way to make the probate process faster is to write an estate plan in such a way that certain assets need not pass through probate.

The most common ways to accomplish this are by putting assets and property into a trust. Additionally, one may consider transfer-on-death deeds for financial assets.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for How Long it Takes to Probate a Will?

There is no time limit for long the probate process is allowed to take to reach its natural conclusion.

While most probate proceedings are wrapped up in less than a year’s time, there are instances where an estate may be going through probate for over a decade.