Probate is the court-supervised process that involves proving that a will is valid, paying debts and distributing assets to the right beneficiaries. In many cases, probate can be completed within a year. However, the process can take longer if there are certain complexities. Here are several things that can delay the probate process.
Estates with Many Beneficiaries
The more beneficiaries an estate has, the longer it may take to settle. An estate with just two or three beneficiaries will typically take much less time to finalize than one with eight or nine beneficiaries, for example. It will take longer to notify all the beneficiaries and have them sign all the required documents.
While it would be ideal if all beneficiaries got along during the probate process, it does not always work out that way. For instance, if beneficiaries do not believe that they are getting their fair share, they may try to contest the will. They may hire their own lawyers who will question everything, slowing down the entire process.
Estates with Unique Assets
Assets like homes and vehicles are easy to value. Unusual assets, like racehorses and rare collectibles, on the other hand, are much more difficult to value. If an estate has these unique assets, it may take longer to assign a value to them, which can drag the probate process on.
Estates with Beneficiaries Who Live Far Away
If beneficiaries live in several different states, it may take longer to get in contact with them all. They may take longer to respond to documents, which can delay probate too.
Estates with Assets in Multiple States
Some descendants may leave assets in more than one state. For example, they might have lived in Tennessee, but have a vacation home in Florida. In these cases, multiple probate processes will be necessary, which will require more time.
Sometimes the probate process gets delayed because the wrong executor is chosen. For example, the executor might be disorganized and can make the probate process drag on and on. In other cases, the executor might be too busy with work and family life, so he or she doesn’t have enough time to devote to the estate.