Why Does Probate Take So Much Time?

Imagine that you’ve recently lost a loved one and you’ve been named “executor” of the estate. You might be surprised to learn that you can’t finish the process in a month, or even two for that matter.

First, in New Jersey, you can’t submit a Will to the court or begin probating estate until 10 days after the date of death. So, even if you have a simple estate and are ready to move forward, you can’t take the first step until the waiting period has expired. This can be an extremely frustrating holding pattern to be in. For many people, the act of distributing their loved one’s possessions is helpful to the grieving process. Unfortunately, you’re stuck in limbo for over a week.

After the first waiting period is finished, the WIll can be submitted to the court and Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration can be issued. These are the papers you need to be able to step into your loved one’s shoes and begin administering the estate. That process typically takes 15 minutes of in-and-out at the Surrogate’s Office.

Then, you have to start sending out certain notices to the beneficiaries and dealing with outstanding debts and creditors of the estate. Most folks find themselves stuck again as they wait for certain claim and notice periods to expire. Before you know it, it’s been 4 months since you lost your loved one and you’re just getting around to listing the house up for sale.

Our clients are surprised to learn that all of these waiting periods exist and that they won’t be done as quickly as they imagined. Making sure that they comply with all of the notice and time requirements is one of the main reasons that our clients engage us to help them with probate. Sometimes it’s easier to turn everything over to professionals with experience in the field.


Posted by Victor Medina, Medina Law Group, LLC