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When will you get your inheritance from a California estate?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2022 | Estate And Probate Administration |

Probate in California typically takes longer than in other states. On average, probate takes six to eighteen months to complete. In rare cases, it takes two years or more for the beneficiaries to receive their inheritances.

End of probate

Beneficiaries can only receive their inheritances from a will at the end of probate because the law requires that creditors receive their share first. Executors of estates must also handle the tax obligations of the decedent before distributing assets to beneficiaries. This entire process takes time, and the larger the estate, the longer it tends to take.


If a conflict arises between beneficiaries and the executor of an estate, then probate will take longer. During some stages of probate, the executor may need information from the beneficiaries. Some beneficiaries might slow things down out of either irresponsibility or unhappiness. When an executor has to go to court to enforce steps of probate, it delays the process for everyone.

Beginning probate

California doesn’t allow probate to begin until you have held the decedent’s funeral. After a loved one has died, you may locate their will, but the official probate process doesn’t begin until after the testator’s funeral. Usually, the decedent’s estate planning lawyer knows where the will is. Testators may want to avoid storing their wills in a safe deposit box because it could require a court order to open it. Executors must obtain a death certificate and show this to organizations like banks and brokerage firms that need to see it.

Trusts and transfer-on-death accounts

If the testator set up any trusts or transfer-on-death accounts, then beneficiaries receive these assets quickly. Trusts and transfer-on-death accounts don’t need to go through probate.

It will most likely take at least six months before you receive your inheritance from a will in California. Beneficiaries must wait for the probate process to complete to receive these assets.