Q:

How long will probate take in California?

A:

Probate will probably take about 12 months to complete in California. In fact, the court will be concerned if you can’t complete it in one year and will have an order to show cause hearing to find out why the probate process has lasted so long. Some of the timing has to do with timing that’s contained in the probate code itself. For example, if we were to file a probate petition today, we probably wouldn’t get a hearing because of how busy the court docket is for four to six weeks. Already, we’re out a month to a month and a half. Assuming we have our hearing on time and the court grants the petition to probate the will or if there’s no will, an intestate probate, the probate code now allows a 120 day period for all creditors to file all known claims against the probate estate. There’s another four months at that time.

Let’s assume at the end of that 120 day period, we’re able to prepare our final accounting, we’ve had all assets valued by the probate referee and we file a petition to close the probate and distribute the assets, again if we file, we may not get a hearing for another six to eight weeks. Now, we’re at four months, five and a half months, seven and a half to eight months, and probably longer. I tell people probate in California will probably take about 12 months.

Note: The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 signed into law in December 2017 increased the exemption amounts mentioned in these videos. The personal estate, gift, and generation-skipping tax lifetime exemption was increased to $11.18 million per person. The annual gift tax exclusion was increased to $15,000 per donee per year.

Both amounts are indexed for inflation and may increase year over year until December 31, 2025, when the law sunsets and reverts to 2017 values.