Probate is a legal process in which a will is reviewed in court to determine whether it is valid or not. While most probates are done within a year, some of them drag on for a long time. This can be very frustrating to beneficiaries because they have to wait a long time to receive assets. Let’s take a closer look at some factors that can delay the probate process:
Estates That Must File an Estate Tax Return
If an estate is required to file a federal estate tax return, the probate may take longer. This is because the IRS typically does not process the return until three or four months after it has been filed. Then, it can take an additional three or four months for a person to review the form. If the person finds an issue with the return, the IRS will ask for additional documentation, which can prolong the process even more.
Estates With Beneficiaries Who Don’t Get Along
While it would be nice if family members all got along during the probate process, this simply does not happen. If beneficiaries argue with each other during the process and can’t seem to agree on anything, it can make probate take longer. They may hire their own attorneys, who will questions every little aspect in the will.
Estates With a Personal Representative Who’s Too Busy or Disorganized
It’s important for estate owners to take their take choosing a personal representative. Who you appoint as your personal representative can have a big effect on how long the probate process takes. If a personal representative, for example, has too many work and family responsibilities, he or she may not have the time to devote to the estate. This can cause probate process to take much longer than it should. The probate process can also drag on if the personal representative is disorganized.
Estates With Many Beneficiaries
If an estate has more than just a few beneficiaries, it will typically take longer to probate. It will take more time to notify every beneficiary about the process and they may have to sign some documents. If one or two beneficiaries take their time returning these documents, it can delay the probate process.
Estates With Unique Assets
While assets like homes and cars are easy to put a dollar value on, there are some assets that are difficult to value. Rare collectibles, patents and racehorses, for instance, are not easy to value and can make the probate process take longer.
As you can see, there are quite a few factors that can make the probate process take longer than it should. If your loved one just died and the assets have to go through a probate process, you may want to consult with a qualified estate planning law firm Ridgefield, CT trusts as soon as possible. He or she can guide you through the process and help you avoid problems that could delay everything.
Thank you to our contributors at Sweeney Legal, LLC for their insight into probate and estate planning.