7 Month Probate Timeline

How long does a probate take?

My dad’s probate took 5 years!

My sister-in-law’s probate has been going on for 2 years!

I hate probate because it takes so long!

Back to the top the question is how long should a probate take?

The probate process should take 7 months in California from start to finish.  That’s it.  On a rare occasion we can get it done slightly quicker but 7 months is the target.

Let me explain it with dates….

Decedent dies January 1, 2012.

Attorney hired January 3rd.

Probate filed in Court January 4th.

First Court date is usually 5-6 weeks later.  In some cases it can be as much as 8 weeks later and in rare cases only 4 weeks.

During the time from filing until the first Court date the attorney will cause publication to be made in a local newspaper. There is specific format and it publication has to match the petition that has been filed exactly.  This, in fact, is often the cause of delays when people use novice attorneys or try to do it themselves.

Let’s say our first Court date is February 15th.  It’s my birthday so I like that date!

If your attorney has done your job and filed the proposed order and “letters” before the Court date then the Judge can sign the Court order on February 15th and the Court can issue letters that same day.  Of course your attorney will need to have checked the Court’s calendar notes to make sure everything gets done right BEFORE the Court date. Also if a bond is required the attorney will have had to have the bond application filed with the bond company and the bond issued and filed prior to the Court date. If you hadn’t already guessed an experienced attorney is key!

Starting February 15th through roughly June 15th is the 4 months probate period. This is when property gets sold, creditors are dealt with, taxes are paid, and all other issues of the probate are worked through.

As you may have guessed the final petition can be filed on about June 15th.  In the more straight forward cases we have our final petition ready BEFORE June 15th so our client (the executor) can sign the petition and get it filed. It’s my opinion that an experienced and efficient California probate lawyer will have this done before June 15th so they are ready. Again, if you are aiming for 7 months this is key!

The final petition, or “accounting,” is filed about June 15th with a Court date around late July or the first of August.  Assuming, again that the attorney checks the Court’s calendar notes and files the proposed order before that last Court date the Judge will sign the order and checks can be cut immediately after to end the probate around August 1.


Now, bear in mind there are times when we want to wait longer (creditor concerns for example) and there are situations where we can not finish in 7 months (the house won’t sell for example).  However, many cases can be closed in 7 months if your attorney is experienced, organized and efficient.

Contact me so we can discuss your probate case and if 7 months would work!  -John

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