A Bad Situation

I recently had someone called a frantic phone call, and they said, “We’re selling my mom’s house. She has passed away, and we have closing scheduled two weeks from now. We just found out that the house is still in her name, and we have to go to probate to get her name off it. Can we get this done by then?” And, unfortunately, the answer is absolutely not.

Best Case Scenario

Probate has the potential to take a long time. Every county is different. Every probate is different. Every state is different. A simple answer to this is not possible without knowing more about the specifics. But I can tell you this: the time it takes to gather information, to get the paperwork created, to get the clients to sign off on it, to get death certificates, to get the will if there is one, and to get that to the county takes at least a week. That is if everybody moves very quickly. Once it’s there, the county has to get to it, and every county is different. If you file electronically, which we almost certainly are, Hennepin County is a little faster. They have many staff for this process. However, every county outside of that takes longer, in my experience. If there are no problems, if there’s only one beneficiary, if there’s no claims, no creditors, and if everybody’s very cooperative, I have gotten probate done in less than a month.

Longer Wait Times

Most probates are way longer than that, and you should not count on a month. I’m telling you that right now. If you were to call a lawyer and say we need this done in a month, their answer would be that’s almost certainly not going to happen. You’ll need to reschedule the closing. On average, probate is going to take three to six months. That’s if everything goes well. And that’s just to get the initial authorization. You still have to get everything distributed, make a report, and update it to the court. Probate probably will not get closed for a couple of years. So assume that timeline if you’re calling an attorney about probate, unless everything the stars align just perfectly, which is very rare. Please don’t count on a month. I hesitate even to mention it because I wouldn’t want you to think that’s the case. Count on at least three to six months, but then be prepared for a couple of years to close it out.