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how do I claim my inheritance

To make an inheritance claim, the deceased person’s estate must typically go through probate first. The probate process can be lengthy, making it difficult to know when you will get your inheritance. To provide some frame of reference, it is helpful to have an understanding of how the probate process works.

The Probate Process

Not all estates go through probate, but most do. Typically, if the decedent’s assets are below a certain dollar amount, the estate does not need to be probated. While each state has its own set of probate and estate administration laws, the probate process is generally the same. 

File Petition for Probate 

The first step in the probate process is to file a petition for probate with the court. This alerts the court that someone has died and that a judge must appoint an executor for the estate. The petition needs to include the decedent’s will, if any, and a death certificate. Getting these documents can sometimes take a while, especially if you do not know where the decedent put his or her will.  

Appointment of Executor, Administrator, or Personal Representative 

The person in charge of handling the decedent’s estate is known as the executor, administrator, or personal representative, depending on the state. At a hearing, a judge will either approve a named executor in the decedent’s will or appoint an executor if there is no will or the named executor does not want to serve. 

The court will then issue Letters of Administration to the executor, giving him or her power to act on behalf of the estate. 

Notice to Heirs and Creditors 

The next step in the probate process is to alert any heirs and creditors to the decedent’s death. Heirs are anyone eligible to inherit from the estate. 

Each state has different requirements for giving notice. For example, some states only require that the executor publish a notice in a local newspaper for several weeks. In other states, the executor must provide written notice to each individual heir and creditor.  

There is a certain time limit, which again varies by state, for the creditors to file a claim against the estate.

Inventorying and Appraising Assets 

One of the most time-consuming phases of probate is making an inventory of all the decedent’s assets and appraising them. The executor must prepare and file an inventory form with the court to provide a starting value of the estate. Depending on the types and number of assets, this can take months. For example, if the decedent owned a house or business that needs to be sold, that process could take a long time.  

The executor also has to go through the will and determine if any assets are to be distributed to specific people. The executor may have to sell some or all tangible assets (e.g. furniture, jewelry, etc.), which generates income for the estate. 

Throughout the inventorying process, the executor must keep detailed records of all transactions involving the estate, such as income received, debts paid, and assets sold.  

Payment of Estate Debts and Taxes 

After the expiration date for creditors to file their claims, the executor must pay off all debts of the estate.  This includes everything from credit card bills to the decedent’s final personal income taxes.  

Once all debts are paid, the executor will produce a final accounting to the court showing the total amount to be distributed to the heirs.

Distribution of the Estate  

The court must approve the final accounting before any distributions are made. 

How Long Does Probate Take?

Probate can take anywhere from a few months to several years. As described above, there are multiple steps to the probate process. The time it takes to complete depends on a variety of factors, such as:

  • The presence or absence of a will;
  • The state’s probate laws;
  • The number and types of assets in the estate;
  • Unpaid debts;
  • Disputes amongst creditors, heirs, and executors; and 
  • The court’s speed. 

An estate administration attorney may be able to provide an estimate of how long probate will take for a particular estate. 

What Is an Inheritance Advance?

If you want to claim your inheritance sooner, you may consider an inheritance advance. An inheritance advance or probate advance is a way to immediately access a portion of your future inheritance. Instead of waiting for probate to end, you can receive a cash advance in exchange for an assignment of a portion of your expected inheritance. 

With an inheritance advance, you typically do not pay any interest, make monthly payments, or provide collateral. Most companies also will not hold you personally liable if the estate runs out of money to pay the inheritance advance provider. 

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Inheritance Advance?

Before signing over a portion of your inheritance, consider the pros and cons of a probate advance. A financial advisor and estate administration attorney can also advise you on the financial and legal implications.


If you need or want some of your inheritance right now, an advance gives you access to that cash without waiting for probate to end. The money can be used for any purpose, whether that be buying a new car or paying a debt. 

With an advance, you know exactly how much you are getting by agreeing on a set amount. If you wait for your inheritance, the final amount you receive can change by the time all estate debts are paid off. 

Another benefit of an inheritance advance is that you are not responsible for paying it back. An advance is not a loan. If the estate does not have enough money to pay your portion to the advance company, they take the loss, not you. 


Often with an inheritance advance, you will receive a smaller amount than if you wait until the estate settles. For an advance company to make a profit, they need to give you less than they expect to receive from the estate. You also will pay a fee for the advance, so you are incurring a cost that you would not if you wait for probate to end.  

Another disadvantage is the possibility of causing conflict amongst heirs and the executor by introducing an advance company to the probate process.

Lastly, the inheritance advance industry is not highly regulated. Very few states have laws in place regarding probate advances and lending. Thus, companies may engage in predatory practices on customers. It is important to thoroughly vet an inheritance advance company before signing anything.  

Swift Inheritance Advance

You are entitled to your inheritance. At Swift Inheritance Advance, we can provide you with access to your money while you wait for probate to end. Start using and enjoying your cash now! Contact us today to learn more about how to claim your inheritance money sooner.

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