If you recently lost a family member or loved one, you are undoubtedly grieving. At the same time, you may be anticipating an inheritance. You may have even been notified that you are officially a beneficiary or heir of the decedent’s estate. If so, you understandably want to know when to expect receipt of your inheritance. With that in mind, the Los Angeles probate attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC shed some light on how long you will have to wait for your inheritance in California.
How Is the Inheritance Being Passed Down?
One of the first things to consider when waiting for an inheritance is how the inheritance is being passed down to you. When someone dies, that individual (the “decedent”) leaves behind an estate. That estate may need to go through the legal process known as “probate.” Not all assets, however, are probate assets. Assets that bypass probate can be distributed much sooner than assets required to go through probate. For example, assets held in a trust do not have to go through probate before being distributed to the named beneficiaries.
In addition, if the decedent left behind a Last Will and Testament, you are a “beneficiary” of the estate if the decedent left you a bequest in the Will. If the decedent died without a Will (known as dying “intestate”), you will only inherit assets or property if you are a legal heir of the estate because the California intestate succession laws dictate what happens to the estate assets.
Factors That Influence Your Wait for a California Inheritance
How long you will have to wait to receive an inheritance in California will depend on several factors, including things such as:
- Whether the inheritance is made up of probate or non-probate assets. Non-probate assets, such as trust assets, life insurance proceeds, and certain types of jointly held property can be transferred to beneficiaries or pass automatically to beneficiaries shortly after the death of the owner.
- Whether the estate is required to go through formal probate. If the estate is required to go through probate and your inheritance is made up of probate assets, it will take a minimum of about six months to complete probate. This is because creditors have four months to file claims against the estate and probate cannot be concluded until the time to file claims has passed.
- Whether the estate becomes involved in litigation. If someone contests the Will submitted to the court for probate, it can hold up the probate process for months, even years. The issue of the validity of the Will must be settled before probate can move forward.
- Whether the decedent died intestate. When the decedent left a Will, the terms of the Will are used to determine how estate assets should be distributed. In an intestate estate, the court must first identify, locate, and notify all heirs of the estate before deciding who will inherit from the estate. This can hold up the receipt of an inheritance.
- Whether assets need to be sold to pay creditors. If the estate lacks sufficient liquid assets to pay creditors, including estate taxes, the Executor will have to sell assets to raise the funds to pay the claims. This can directly interfere with both the nature and value of the inheritance you receive as well as the amount of time it takes for you to receive your inheritance.
Contact Our Los Angeles Probate Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about how long you will have to wait for an inheritance in California, contact the experienced Los Angeles probate attorneys at Schomer Law Group APC by calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.