If you’ve been named as a beneficiary in a loved one’s estate plan, you’ve likely wondered how long it will take to receive your share of the inheritance. The length of time it takes to distribute assets in an estate can vary widely depending upon the particular situation.
Some of the factors that will be involved in determining how long it takes to fully administer an estate include whether the estate must be probated with the court, whether assets are difficult to value, whether the decedent had an ownership interest in real estate located in a state other than the state they resided in, whether your state has a state estate (or inheritance) tax, whether the estate must file a federal estate tax return, whether there are creditors that must be dealt with, and of course, whether there are any disputes.
Before the distribution of assets to beneficiaries, the executor and trustee must also make certain to identify any creditors because they have an obligation to pay any legally enforceable debts of the decedent with those assets. If there must be a court filed probate action, there may be certain waiting periods prescribed by state law that may delay things.
In some cases, the executor or trustee may make a partial distribution to the beneficiaries during the pending administration but still hold back sufficient assets to cover any income or estate taxes and other administrative fees. That way the beneficiaries can get some benefit, but the executor is assured there are assets still in his or her control to pay those final taxes and expenses. Then, once those are fully paid, a final distribution can be made. It is not unusual for the entire process to take 6 months to 18 months (sometime more) to fully complete.
If you’ve been named a beneficiary and are dealing with a trustee or executor who is not properly handling the estate and you have yet to receive your inheritance, please let us know.
Posted in: Estate Planning