Probate in the United States has acquired a bad reputation because of the time associated with completing the process along with the potential problems that could arise. Many people only have to deal with probate once in their lives, adding to the stress since there is no way to properly prepare for it. By the time you figure out the process, the situation is usually resolved. Understanding why probate takes so long can make the difficult process easier to handle, and knowing the potential pitfalls of probate may encourage you to take steps to help your loved ones avoid it entirely.  

Court Calendar

One reason probate cases often take a long time to resolve is because the court calendar is full of cases that need to be resolved  The average probate court has a limited number of staff members who are rarely able to manage the large caseload that the court has at any given time. When a case is complex and requires additional hearings, this adds to the court’s workload, slowing things down for everyone who is waiting for the court to complete the probate process for their own case. In some situations, a mandatory waiting period may further delay things since the court may require parties to wait before making major decisions to ensure everything is done appropriately.

Out of State Beneficiaries or Representatives

With families spread out over the country and, in some cases, the world, it can take a long time for everyone with an interest in the case to be notified about the probate process. Even after people initially learn about the passing of a loved one, it may take time for them to respond and in some cases, it is difficult for them to attend hearings. Technology has made things significantly easier for heirs and courts, but when certain people such as a personal representative do not live locally, things can become complicated. Email and fax is not always acceptable with probate cases since an original signature is often necessary to make court documents valid.


When heirs or those who thought they would be heirs disagree with the contents of the will or the decision of the court, then a legal proceeding may be necessary to validate or invalidate the will.  Even if the beneficiaries do not go so far as to challenge the content of the will, bickering can still drag out the probate process. The representative of the estate must communicate with interested parties, especially if assets need to be sold or there are questions about property. If beneficiaries are purposefully ignoring the personal representative, then the court might need to get involved to get an order from a judge to proceed without waiting for approval from each beneficiary.

Consult an Attorney

Instead of going through the time-consuming and stressful probate process alone, take the time to contact a qualified probate attorney. An attorney acting on your behalf can help you navigate the probate process with limited delays and relieve you of the burdens associated with managing an estate alone. The legal team at MMZ Law has experience working through probate and can even help you plan your estate in such a manner that you avoid probate entirely. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that we can work with you to determine what options are best for your situation.




341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.