Creating And Protecting Your Legacy

Why can probate take longer than expected?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Probate and Estate Administration |

When a loved one dies, their estate typically goes through a legal process called probate. Probate involves validating the deceased person’s will, identifying their assets, paying off debts and distributing what remains to the rightful heirs.

However, this process can often take longer than expected due to various factors.

Complex assets and liabilities

One reason probate may slow down is the complexity of the dead person’s assets and liabilities. If the estate includes numerous properties, investments or business interests, it can take time to assess their value.

Additionally, if the deceased had outstanding debts or obligations, the executor should notify these creditors. This can further prolong the process.

Disputes among heirs

Disputes among heirs, especially siblings, are another common cause of probate delays. When multiple individuals believe they have the right to get a bigger share of the estate, disagreements can arise regarding the interpretation of the will or the distribution of assets. Resolving these disputes often requires negotiation, mediation or even litigation, all of which can extend the probate timeline significantly.

Missing or incomplete documentation

Probate proceedings require thorough documentation to proceed smoothly. If important documents such as the dead person’s will, financial records or property titles are incomplete, it can delay the process. In some cases, locating and authenticating these documents may require additional time and effort, further prolonging probate proceedings.

Legal requirements

Probate is subject to specific legal requirements dictated by state law. These requirements may include publishing notices and filing various forms with the probate court. Following these legal procedures can take time, especially if the executor is unfamiliar with probate laws. Additionally, court backlogs and delays can also contribute to this issue.

Executors and heirs should prepare ahead of time for potential delays. They also need to work diligently to navigate the probate process together in an efficient way.