There are several ways to speed up the probate administration process in California, including taking advantage of simplified procedures, responding timely to notices from the Court, and avoiding litigation.
How Long Does the Average Probate Take In California?
12 to 18 months. The average, non-litigated probate in California takes about 12 to 18 months. Probate can take a shorter amount of time if everything goes swiftly and smoothly, and can also take much longer if there is any litigation involving the estate.
Speed Up California Probate By Using Shortcuts For Spouses and Small Estates
There are certain things you can do to speed up a California probate, but only if your particular situation is appropriate for these shortcuts.
In California, an estate will qualify as a small estate if the amount of assets is $166,250 or less. If the estate qualifies as a small estate, an affidavit can be used to transfer the decedent’s property. See Cal. Prob. Code s 13100 and 13200. Using a small estate affidavit, if appropriate in your situation, will speed up the process because it avoids a formal probate proceeding in the California probate court altogether. Read Small Estates In California to learn more.
Spousal Property Petition
California probate law also permits the use of a spousal property petition when the surviving spouse inherits the assets of the decedent. The spousal property petition is submitted to the California probate court for approval. The use of a spousal property petition greatly speeds up the California probate process, but is not available when there are beneficiaries other than the surviving spouse.
What Slows Down Probate In California?
Required timelines, lack of responsiveness, and litigated estates can all slow down the probate process in California.
California, like most states, has several timelines that must be followed in a formal estate proceeding in order to protect the rights of estate creditors and beneficiaries. See Deadlines and Timelines in California Probate.
These requirements are in place to make sure the interested persons in the estate receive notice and a meaningful opportunity to respond to any notices they receive from the Court.
For example, a creditor of a California estate is required to file a creditor claim before the expiration of the later of four months after letters are issued to a general personal representative, or 60 days after the notice of administration is given to the creditor. These required timelines necessarily lengthen the time it takes to probate a California estate.
Lack of Responsiveness
Sometimes the beneficiaries or the personal representative are detrimental to the speed of the California probate. If beneficiaries do not timely respond to notices from the Court, or ignore communications from the personal representative, the probate process can be slowed down.
The personal representative and their California probate attorney can also influence the speed of the California probate. Some move quicker and are more efficient than others.
Litigation in the California Probate Estate
If any type of litigation commences regarding the California probate estate, the speed of the entire process is slowed way down. Will contests, fiduciary litigation, and beneficiary fights can take years to resolve. While parties’ rights to the estate are being determined, the administration of the estate can come to a crawl.
The longer an estate takes to probate in California, the longer it takes for a beneficiary to receive their inheritance.