One of the more popular questions most beneficiaries have for probate is how long the process will last. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to that question. Florida does have some laws in place to limit the time, but varying circumstances could place the probate process from four months to more than a year.

Before the probate starts, you should keep these factors in mind if you are trying to guess how long the proceedings could last. It can help you strategize your approach to the process.

How much property the decedent has

If the deceased individual has an estate that is worth less than $75,000 or has been dead for more than two years, the estate can qualify for Florida’s simplified probate process known as summary administration. If the proceedings go smoothly, then probate lasts between one week to two months depending on the size and attribution. Whichever way it goes, it is still significantly less time-consuming than standard probate proceedings.

Otherwise, a typical probate administration takes place in the decedent’s county. Potential beneficiaries and heirs receive notice. Since beneficiaries could be placed all over the country, it can take days for them to receive any necessary documents from the probate. The more friends and family members the decedent plans to divide their estate with, the longer the process will take.

Any will arguments

After the notice, an estate beneficiary has 90 days to oppose the will. In many cases, heirs that were unsatisfied with their inheritance will challenge the execution of the estate.

Even though the beneficiary has nearly three months to oppose the will, any valid challenges they present can undoubtedly lengthen the proceedings. Not only will there be those who will argue against the beneficiary, but there could also be more heirs willing to lengthen the proceedings to argue about their inheritance.

Property content and taxes

Many probate cases do not just involve investments and houses. They can also include family businesses, separate bank accounts or timeshares. Any property that is not straightforward will require additional time to sort out in the proceedings, especially if certain aspects were not clear on the decedent’s will or trust.

Additionally, if there are estate or inheritance taxes that need payment, the state or IRS must send a closing letter before the estate can be closed. The IRS estimates that a closing letter would typically take at least six months without additional examination.

Regardless of how long the probate’s proceedings will go, arming yourself with proper knowledge and legal assistance can prepare you for a number of circumstances. You can use this preparation to your advantage against any opponents who might contest against you in the process.