The length of the process will vary from estate to estate. In a summary administration where the decedent has been dead for more than two years, the process could be completed in a matter of weeks. If the estate is more complex, it could take a year. If real estate needs to be sold by the personal representative, the process will obviously take longer as the property has to be sold prior to settling the estate. The process can also take longer if there is 9 disputed claim by a creditor or a lawsuit that is filed to challenge the validity of the will. Any of these situations will cause the probate process to take longer. Even the simplest of estates has to be open for a three month period in order for the creditors to have time to make claims.
If a federal estate tax return does not have to be filed by the estate, the final accounting and other documents needed to close the estate are due 12 months after the court issues Letters of Administration to the personal representative. This period can be extended. When a federal estate tax return has to be filed, the return is due nine months after the date of the decedent’s death. This time can be extended for up to six months.