Why Does Probate Take So Long?
Probate can be easily avoided, but most estates are dragged through the process. Why? Many people fail to create an estate plan, so probate is required. And - others plan with just a Will, so probate is required. As a result, assets end up at the mercy of a probate judge, open to public scrutiny, and delayed passing to beneficiaries.
Posted on July 1, 2014
Frustratingly, probate can drag on for months - or even years. Here are some of the most common reasons why probate takes so long:
1. Many Beneficiaries. In general, estates with many beneficiaries take longer to probate than estates with just a few beneficiaries.
Why? It takes time to communicate with each and every beneficiary and, if documents need to be signed, there are always beneficiaries who fail to return their signed documents in a timely manner. Regardless of advances in modern technology and communications, it simply takes a long time to reach multiple beneficiaries, spread out across the United States or in a foreign country.
2. Estate Tax Return. Estates, required to file an estate tax return at the state and/or federal level, are usually complicated. And, the personal representative can’t make a final asset distribution until she is absolutely sure that the estate tax return has been accepted and the estate tax bill has been paid in full. At the federal level, it can take up to a year before the IRS gets around to reviewing and accepting an estate tax return.
3. Angry Beneficiaries. Nothing can drag out the probate process like a family feud. When beneficiaries don’t get along or won’t speak to each other, the personal representative may be forced to go to court to get permission to do just about everything. That takes time.
4. Incompetent Personal Representative. A personal representative, who is not good with money, irresponsible, disorganized, or busy with his job or family, will drag probate on and on. Why? Because a personal representative must efficiently and effectively handle the responsibilities and duties that go along with serving. It’s a lot of work.
What Can Be Done to Speed Up Probate?
The best way to speed up probate is to avoid it altogether. Avoidance is the only way to eliminate probate delays. If properly drafted and funded, a Revocable Living Trust will avoid probate perils, stresses, and delays. It’s easy.
More from our blog…
Why You Should Designate Beneficiaries
According to WealthCounsel, over a third of Americans have experienced or witnessed familial conflict when someone dies without an estate plan. While most people believe having [...]
Affordable Housing Options for Low-Income Older Adults
Safe housing that meets older adults’ needs is essential to healthy aging in communities. Many seniors with low, fixed incomes struggle to balance housing expenses [...]
Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes: What’s the Difference?
Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are long-term housing and care options for older adults. Although people sometimes use the terms assisted living and nursing [...]
How the Debt Ceiling Bill Could Impact Medicaid Enrollees
For adults who rely on Medicaid, a bill recently passed by the House may mean holding a job would become necessary to continue accessing benefits. [...]