Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Long Will it Take to Close an Estate?

Clients generally wonder how long an estate process will take. Unfortunately, there is no clearcut answer in most cases. There is a minimum amount of time that must be allowed in North Carolina to give notice to creditors and allow them to make claims against the estate, but beyond that, it's a question of how complex the estate may be.

A host of factors can cause delays in administering an estate. Sometimes there are provisions in a will that take a certain amount of time to fulfill. Occasionally, finding heirs may cause a delay. Other delaying factors may include finding assets, accounting and taxation problems, setting up trusts, selling assets to pay creditors or even to make distributions to heirs if the will so directs, adjusting or resisting creditor claims, handling challenges to the will, dealing with heirs who are minors, etc.

In North Carolina, you can expect a minimum of 90 days after the estate is opened for the time allowed creditors to make their claims. Some very simple estates can be closed soon after that time period and some take several years to complete.

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