In most cases, “informal probate” in Superior Court is appropriate when probate is indicated for administration of a decedent’s estate. Informal probate simply means that a judge will not be involved, and the paperwork is processed by the probate clerk’s office without having to set any formal hearings before a judge.
It is possible for informal probates to be completed in less than five months. That length of time is calculated by taking the required 4-month creditor notice period and adding a couple of weeks on the front end for starting the case, and a couple of weeks on the back end for closing the case.
However, an informal probate will be an active case for as long as it takes to complete the business of the estate. For example, if there is delay in the sale of estate property, probate may continue as an open case until that business is completed.
In order for a probate to be completed as soon as possible, it is important not to unnecessarily delay any part of the legal process. For example, the 4-month creditor notice period that needs to run while the case is open can only start with the first of three legal notices that must be published. If the start of the creditor notice period is delayed, that causes the entire probate procedure to take that much longer.
There is a myth promoted by commercial “living trust mills” that probate takes forever. They attempt to sell their one-size-fits-all products by convincing the public that unless they spend an arm and a leg on a living trust, the inevitable probate could drag on for years. In fact, the state of Arizona makes it possible to close an informal probate less than five months after it was opened.