Losing a loved one can be overwhelming enough even without the added stress of sorting out the legal and financial implications.
Inheritance won’t fill the gap of losing a loved one, but it can help with peace of mind. In this article, we’ll be explaining the process for receiving inheritance, and how long this usually takes.
The time it takes varies from person to person, and the biggest factor influencing how quickly you receive the money or property is the legal form that the inheritance takes.
This all comes down to how the deceased planned their estate. Your inheritance may either:
– Pass through a will
– Pass-through rules pre-determined by the state if there is no will
– Pass through the rules governing the particular asset or account itself
A will is a legal document that the deceased created before their death, and it expresses a person’s wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death.
A will is only valid if it meets the legal requirements set out by the state governing it and is required to go through a probate.
This probate will attempt to determine the will’s authenticity, requirements, and instructions for the distribution of assets, during which the assets are not usually accessible or usable, unless in certain cases made by the immediate possessor.
The possessor is the person(s) with the right to immediate use and occupancy of the property, for example, a family living in the deceased’s house at the time of death who may continue to occupy it.
If no will was written by the deceased, then their assets will go through the intestate probate process, meaning the court will rely on the state’s default rules to distribute the assets.
In the probate process, the court will determine all potential family members and will distribute the assets.
This will usually take between six to nine months to settle, and it could take longer if there are significant challenges or uncertainties, as litigation and investigation will need to be carried out.
That said, the time frame for having a will versus not having one is more or less the same.
In both situations, the court is required to first catalog all of the assets in the deceased’s estate, and allow time for challenges, before the assets are distributed. So it’s not a straightforward process regardless.
The easiest way to speed up the probate process and reduce both time and potential legal challenges is through property rules governing the asset itself.
Often property can be written so that it will pass automatically to a chosen beneficiary once the person passes away, and this can be controlled through a bank account or life insurance, which would allow the inheritance to be distributed instantly upon providing proof of death to the entity controlling the asset.
Jointly Held Property
This means that the joint owner’s interest will pass to the other joint owner when they pass away, rather than it being passed on to another heir.
A trust is an independent legal entity that has designated beneficiaries, and usually, a trust will derive the income they payout from a core asset base from the deceased’s estate.
The trust’s asset base is then managed by a trustee who was either appointed by the deceased or if not, is appointed by the court.
A trust will create specific rules for governing property and can save time, and speed up the legal process when distributing a person’s assets after their death.
That said, trusts often include property rules which are difficult to change, and they can be complex and expensive to set up.
There is no straightforward answer when it comes to how long it takes to receive inheritance, as, quite simply, it depends on the legal form your inheritance takes and any further complications in the process.
The process can also be complicated or prolonged significantly if there are legal challenges by others who claim the asset or if the deceased’s documents are unclear.
Seeking legal counsel and financial advice is essential as receiving inheritance can be a tricky path to navigate.
Having the right advisories, and understanding the process, will help minimize delays and avoid complications.