When a person passes on, some or all of his or her assets may become frozen until the court authorizes someone to act on behalf of the estate of the deceased person to pay his or her debts, funeral expenses, taxes, and other expenses and then distribute what is left to the beneficiaries.  Had that person placed his assets into a well drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no expensive drawn out court proceeding would have been necessary.  The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court.