Time Limits for Settling an Estate

The process of settling an estate is one the executor must do to the best of his ability. Throughout the process of settling the estate, the executor may be held accountable for the time limits set forth by state law. In other cases, no time limits exist for the executor of the estate.

Debt Claims

When settling an estate, the executor of the estate must receive claims and bills against the deceased. For example, someone who is owed a debt by the deceased would have to submit a claim to the executor to have it paid. The claim must be submitted within a certain period of time as governed by the rules of the probate court. These time limits can vary significantly from one state to the next. If the bills are not submitted within that time frame, they will not be paid.


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Probating the Will

If the deceased individual created a will, it is presented to the probate court and the estate finalized. Some states set time limits on how long it can take to completely process the will. For example, in the state of Texas, you are required to probate the will within four years of the death of the individual. Other states have no such restrictions for estate executors.


Tax Returns

During the process of settling an estate, the executor may also need to file tax returns for the deceased individual and for the estate itself. If the estate earns an income after the death of the person, an estate tax return will need to be filed for the income. The deceased individual will need to file a state and federal return. Each state will have its own time limit for when the tax return must be filed.




If the executor does not handle the process of probating the estate within a timely manner, the beneficiaries of the estate can file a lawsuit against him. If the beneficiaries feel that they are being wronged because of the way that the executor is handling the estate, they can file a lawsuit. Then the civil court will get involved and determine if the executor is handling the estate in the best way that he can. If not, the executor may be responsible for damages.



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