When a loved one dies, their property and assets essentially get frozen until the executor in charge of their estate begins to distribute the property. Unless you are a co-owner of an asset or a cosigner on an account, you will not have the right to use or access resources that are technically owned by the deceased person even if you know that they bequeathed it to you in their will or other estate plan document.
Estate administration is a notoriously complex and often lengthy process. Until the executor settles everything, you may not receive your share of the estate. How long will you have to wait to receive your inheritance after your loved one dies?
The length of the wait depends on the status of the estate
Most estates in Pennsylvania have to go through probate court, regardless of whether the testator left behind a will or not. In some cases, if the deceased left behind a very small estates and clear instructions, the probate process may be relatively quick. The executor can submit paperwork to the courts, file taxes, pay off debts and begin distributing assets within weeks of the death.
However, if there are major assets, significant debt, complicated assets like a business or investment real estate, tax issues or challenges against the last will, the entire process might wind up taking years instead of a few weeks or a couple of months. The more contentious things become, the longer it may take. Until the courts resolve all outstanding issues, you will likely just have to wait. If you need legal advice, an experienced estate planning attorney can help.