If you’ve been named in a loved one’s will, you might be wondering when you’ll receive your share of the inheritance. Unfortunately, probate law requires the executor to complete several steps before distributing the decedent’s assets, which could take several months to complete. Understanding the complexity of the process will help you determine when and how the executor will distribute inheritances to the beneficiaries.

What Needs to Happen Before Executors Can Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries?

1. Inventory Assets

After filing the probate petition with the court, the executor will have to inventory all the decedent’s assets. This may be time-consuming, especially if items named in the will have been sold or your family member owned property in several states. Along with ensuring a fair distribution of assets, this inventory is also used to calculate tax liability and provide a list of belongings that can be sold to pay back creditors.

2. Pay Off Debts

probate law

Creditors have priority in any probate case, so the decedent’s outstanding debts must be settled first. If the estate has enough liquid funds, the executor may simply pay medical bills and consumer debts in cash. However, in some cases, they may have to sell off valuables—even if they were left to someone in the will. This can take a while, especially if settling debts involves selling antiques or real estate.

3. Settle Legal Disputes

If family members dispute the will, the executor will have to settle these legal challenges before any assets can be distributed. For instance, they may have to prove that the will is valid, that no more recent draft exists, or that the decedent didn’t prepare a new estate plan under duress. Probate law disputes can add months or even years to the process, depending on the complexity of the case.


Whether you’ve been named as the executor of a family member’s estate or are preparing an estate plan, Riley, Resar & Associates PLL will simplify the process. They have nearly 30 years of experience in probate law, and their team has the expertise to provide tailored solutions and help you avoid common mistakes. Visit the website for more on their available probate law services, or call (440) 244-5214 to schedule a consultation at their office in Lorain, OH.