When a family member or loved one dies the death is usually followed by a period of grief and strong emotions. At some point, however, the practical and legal aspects of the death will also need to be addressed. The decedent’s estate, for example, will need to be handled and the assets distributed to beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. If you have been notified that you are a beneficiary of the estate, or you believe you are a legal heir of the estate, you may be wondering “ How long will it take to get my inheritance? ” You may also be hesitant to ask this question as it is a delicate subject matter. Your desire to know when you will receive your inheritance, however, is understandable.
There are a number of factors that will determine how long it takes to actually receive an inheritance left to you by a decedent. By far the most important of those factors is whether or not the assets that make up the inheritance are probate or non-probate assets. Probate is the legal process that follows the death of an individual. Probate serves several purposes, including the identification and valuation of assets owned by the decedent at the time of death, payment of creditor claims against the estate, and payment of taxes owed by the decedent and/or the estate. Assets that must pass through probate will not be available for distribution to the intended beneficiaries or legal heirs of the estate until the probate process reaches its conclusion. Even a relatively simple estate will take at least six months to pass through probate. The more complex and/or the more valuable the estate, the longer probate will likely take.
Not all assets, however, are required to go through probate before distribution to beneficiaries. Non-probate assets are typically available to a beneficiary shortly after the death of the decedent. Some common examples of non-probate assets include:
- Proceeds of a life insurance policy
- Assets held in a trust
- Jointly held property if the property is titled as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship”
- Accounts designated as “Payable on Death (POD)” or “Transfer on Death (TOD)”
The best way to find out how long it will likely take before you receive your inheritance is to ask the estate planning attorney for the decedent’s estate or to consult with your own New York estate planning attorney.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the probate process in general, or your inheritance specifically, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.