After a loved one dies, her probate estate must be settled in the Florida probate courts. While most people want the settlement process to be done ASAP, in Florida probate can take between 12 and 24 months. Yes, you heard that right. Our experience with probate estates is that the time delays create unnecessary stress, which is one of the primary reasons people want to avoid probate. (And don’t forget, time is money – at least when dealing with Florida probate lawyers.)
5 Reasons Probate Takes So Long
There are many reasons why probating a will in Florida takes so long. Here are five of the most common:
- Managing probate required paperwork can be a monumental undertaking with structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines that can’t be changed and over which you have no control.
- Estates with numerous or complicated assets simply take longer to probate as there are more items to be accounted for and valued.
- Probate court caseload. Most probate courts are dealing with high caseloads and limited staff.
- Challenges to the will. Heirs, beneficiaries, and those, who thought they’d be beneficiaries, can object to and challenge the will’s terms, validity, and legality. While Florida law dictates how long they have to object, will challenges can add years to the process. Common challenges include that the testator was:
- Lacking testamentary capacity
- Subject to undue influence or dementia
- A victim of fraud
- A victim of financial abuse of the elderly
- Creditor Notification. A will’s executor, or personal representative, must notify the decedent’s creditors so they have time to submit claims for debts. In Florida, this time period is approximately 90 days after the probate is opened. In other states it varies from state to state as well, but it is generally six to nine months. If there are claims filed with the probate court by creditors, the time required to resolve those claims can add additional months to the probate process.
The bottom line is that, while most state probate laws are designed to keep the probate process moving along in a timely manner, that’s more of a plan than a reality.
Simply Put, Avoiding Probate with a Trust Is Better
Simply put, having assets in a revocable living trust usually is better. The revocable living trust provides much more control, and trust administration generally only takes a few months total – meaning that the process is not tied up in probate court, beneficiaries get assets faster, costs are reduced, and stress levels are kept to a minimum.
Take Action Now
First, if you have questions about administering a probate estate, we can answer those questions for you. Next, we can help you move the process along and remove some of the burden so you can move on with your life. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we can show you how to make sure you never burden your loved ones with probate! How? We’ll show you how to avoid probate with a revocable living trust.