6 factors that affect time taken to process probate

6 factors that affect time taken to process probate
  • Lack of a valid Will or estate document.

Wrong inclusion in a Last Will would do little to help duration of probate proceeding. The process can go on and on just to correct a minor error on the estate document. Peradventure the decedent died intestate without a valid or prepared Will, the decedent’s estate would be subjected to the intestate law of the state where he owned properties.

  • Wrong estate representative or executor.

An executor or estate representative is the individual named in a person’s will to take responsibility of managing their estate and disbursing it when the testator passes away. When the testator dies, the executor has to take the will to court for validation because handling someone’s estate has to be legal. Once the court receives the will, probate commences. An estate executor is saddled with many responsibilities required for the fulfillment of the estate document. Once he/she cannot handle these responsibilities correctly, the probate duration will likely be longer.

  • Lack of agreement among beneficiaries

It is impossible that any two beneficiaries, let alone three, four, or more of them, would agree to anything that may happen with an estate. Some beneficiaries may also employ their own lawyers to control the probate process, and each action taken by the executor appears to be nitpicked by these types of lawyers. The more beneficiaries an estate has or the more they complain about the probate procedure, the longer probate can take.

The disagreement among beneficiaries could lead to Will contest. A will contest is a legal proceeding initiated to invalidate a last will and testament. A probate proceeding will remain open for a very long time if a will contest occurs. These issues are typically resolved after lengthy court trials.

  • High number of estate beneficiaries

Probate will take longer as the number of estate beneficiaries increases, particularly if they, too, live far in different states or from the personal representative. This is simply a function of the time it takes to send multiple documents back and forth between numerous people who are located in many different places.

  • Decedent has asset located in different states.

When a decedent have properties in one or more states other than where he lived, then a secondary probate called ancillary probate is required. Typically, probate duration varies depending on the complexity of the estate document and the estate properties involved. However, with inclusion of ancillary probate, probate proceedings is further lengthened. The reason being the executor will need to initiate another proceeding for the ancillary probate, while the primary proceedings would still be on going. The dual phase of these proceedings could prove stressful for parties involved. Both primary and the ancillary probate proceedings must both come to an end before the estate can be administered to its beneficiaries.

  • The decedent owed too many debts

Payment of taxes and a decedent’s debts are major steps required for successful probate proceedings. Transfers of estate or assets to beneficiaries can only occur after settlement of creditors and estate taxes. Payment to creditors can take some time, depending on state law. Most states require that all known creditors must be sent notice, letting them know of the death and how long they have to make claims for the money owed to them. Some states also require that a notice for unknown creditors be published in a local newspaper, sometimes more than once for a period of weeks.

Likewise, if other expenses incurred during probate are not adequately settled, probate conclusion can be delayed. These may include income tax, federal and/or state estate tax, medical bills before death, and funeral expenses, etc. All of these must be paid from the estate purse. Therefore, the estate executor must look into prompt and correct settlement of estate debts and expenses.

Get help from a probate lawyer near you

Having a probate lawyer by your side eases things for you. They can represent you in court and explain the will and every legal jargon you need to understand. In addition, having an attorney by your side brings you credibility in the eyes of the beneficiaries. Hence, there is less tendency for them to accuse you of fraud or mismanagement.

Get help from a probate lawyer near you today.

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