Closing a Florida estate takes time due to the many tasks that the personal representative must complete. According to The American Bar Association, estates take an average of six to nine months to complete the probate process.
However, although probate as a process has a set path, The Florida Bar explains that the assets and debts of the estate take varying amounts of time to take care of, so each estate will be different. The minimum time could be under two months, while some estates take years to close.
Obligations to creditors
Part of probate is settling the estate’s debts. The personal representative must notify creditors that the estate is in probate proceedings, and then the creditors have three months to file a claim. Thus, even the simplest estate typically takes over three months. However, if the personal representative believes a creditor’s claim is not valid, he or she can file an objection. This can drag the process out considerably.
The exception is summary administration. If the estate’s value is less than $75,000 and the estate has no debts or no creditors object, the process may take only one to three months to complete.
Valuation of the estate’s assets
The personal representative must identify and value the estate’s assets. This may involve hiring appraisers to assess the fair market value of real estate, personal property, vehicles and other assets.
Sale of the estate’s assets
If the personal representative must sell some of the estate’s assets, particularly real estate, the length of time it takes may depend on the market. So, in a market where houses are selling quickly, this part of the process may not take long at all. If the market is slow, the process could drag on for months.
Beneficiaries may not have to put their lives on hold while the estate goes through probate if the decedent has placed assets in trust or named beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other assets that do not go through probate.