How long to probate an estate?

A friend’s mother died in November, and his sister is the executrix. She’s been hemming and hawing with the distribution, and I’m wondering if there is some kind of time limit that states when a will must be executed.

I’ve searched through a number of resources on-line, and I can’t make sense of the information. Does anyone have any idea?

BTW…I’m in Minnesota.


My mother died in California. As executor, it took me about 15 months to get to the distribution phase, and my lawyer said that was about as fast as it could be done. BTW, he didn’t get a larger fee for doing it slower or faster, as the charge schedule is fixed by the size of the estate.

During the process of settling the estate, I could not have made a good estimate of the time that it would take to reach distribution.

While we should wait for a practicing attorney to come along and respond, just remember that probate usually takes several months, even for a fairly simple estate, so November until now ain’t all that long. This is why revocable living trusts have become so popular - they don’t do much to avoid estate taxes, but they do avoid probate, so distributions can take place within a few weeks, instead of a few months. No probate fees, either, which can be substantial in some states.

If you want to be completely inundated, you can read the whole statute here. A quick perusal tells me only that, in Minnesota, probate can’t be started more than 3 years after the decedent’s death, but I’ll keep looking for other time-limit provisions.

Thanks, Early Out. I looked at that cite before I posted my question. It’s why I posted my question. :slight_smile:

I should also note that the estate isn’t very complicated at all. The will states that the estate be equally divided among the surviving children (4). It’s basically cash only, about $125,000–except for an $8,000 armoire (go figure).

I had heard that California has one of the most expensive, time-consuming probate processes in the country, but I didn’t realize it was that bad! Sounds like somebody needs to beat up on the state legislature, and get the process streamlined.

Still waiting for a practicing attorney to check in on this thread. Your friend’s mother’s situation would, alas, have been perfect for a revocable living trust - simple distribution, no real estate, no weird provisions. It would all have been settled by now.

Nolo Press, from them you can buy easy to read probate books for California. I bet your local library reference section has some of their books.

Read the OP again. The poster is from Minnesota.

My dad died last May in Washington State. The attorney estimated that the probate process would take through October, but it’s still in the works. There’s a missing vehicle title causing some problems at this point.

If a person dies testate (with a will), the estate must be probated to prove up the will, unless intestacy is acceptable, but even then you have the conflict between the devisees and the heirs, and a question of equitable titles and interests. (To prove up a will is to ascertain its validity under the law.) So, anytime someone has a will, the will must be probated. There may be, in your state, a shortened procedure, merely to probate the will without a full probate proceeding. But normally during probate, all person of interest, including creditors, must be noticed up. This takes time. I am not a practicing attorney and have never handled estates, but this is my understanding.

The will in this case isn’t being contested. The other children just want it to be executed.

What’s a reasonable time to wait to make sure that all creditors have had enough time to put in their claims?

Rystad, you must read the Minnesota probate code, the link to which is above. Try reading code section 524.3-803 for the answer as to how much time creditors have to put in their claims.


I did, as I stated, read that already. The paragraph you mentioned deals with creditors, and claims against the estate. It doesn’t deal with distribution of the estate to the heirs.

No distribution until all the creditors have been paid. Until then, the estate to be distributed to the heirs (legatees) or devisees (beneficiaries) is unknown.

I should also note that there aren’t any known creditors, nor any reason to believe there would be.

The executor or administrator must publish to include “unknown creditors.”

This looks useful…
524.3-801 Notice to creditors.
(2) Notwithstanding a will or other instrument or law to
the contrary, except as allowed in this paragraph, no property
subject to administration by the estate may be distributed by
the estate or the personal representative until 70 days after
the date the notice is served on the commissioner as provided in
paragraph ©, unless the local agency consents as provided for
in clause (6).

Thanks everyone for all of your help. I’ll pass on what y’all have said.

It all boils down to “Call a lawyer,” doesn’t it? :slight_smile: