Probate can be a long process that families have to go through in the stressful period after a death occurs. Unfortunately, probate is often necessary to facilitate the transfer of assets. While you want probate to move as quickly as possible so new heirs can take ownership, some issues and complications can arise that cause delays.
The probate process could take a year, with some estates probated more quickly while others take much longer. It often takes this long due to extensive legal requirements, such as valuing estate assets and providing time for creditors to make claims. Even in the best-case scenario, the simple logistics of completing probate requirements means a long delay before heirs or beneficiaries can inherit.
However, certain issues and conditions can exist that make probate even longer than usual. Some of these include:
- Will contests: If there is a dispute over whether a will is valid, it can take a long time for evidence to be presented and the court to assess whether or not a will is actually a true reflection of the wishes of the deceased made in accordance with the law.
- Uncertainty over which Will is the right one: If there are multiple wills that could potentially be valid, time must be spent determining which Will is the one that should be probated.
- Problems with finding or valuing assets: If estate assets cannot be located or properly inventoried and valued, this may cause delay.
- Property owned in different jurisdictions: If a decedent owned property in multiple states, it is possible that probate proceedings will be necessary in different courts where the property was owned.
In order to plan for probate or if you are already involved in an estate consult with an experienced estate planning attorney that can assist with the completion of the legal requirements, and help with all other aspects of probating a will to wind up the affairs of an estate.