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Spiro J. Verras Blog

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Common Causes of Probate Delays

There is a reason so many seek to avoid or limit probate proceedings when they are estate planning. For starters, probate can be expensive. Also, probate can drag on for quite some time. There are a number of different factors that can contribute to significant delays in probate proceedings. Depending on how many factors are present in any particular case, probate can go on for months with few signs of an end in sight.

Common Causes of Probate Delays

One of the most common causes that probate may be delayed is that the estate is quite sizeable and/or there are unique assets in the estate that must be dealt with. The larger the estate, the longer it will take to inventory the estate and transfer the property to the respective beneficiaries. Additionally, there is likely a greater chance at the estate having unique property that is difficult to value. This includes things such as art, antiques, and rare collectibles. These kinds of things often require specialty appraisers in order to obtain an accurate valuation.

The more property involved in an estate, the longer the probate process. It is also more likely for probate to take more time when there are more than two or three beneficiaries. More beneficiaries mean that it will take a longer time to provide all of the beneficiaries with notice of the probate proceedings, a legal requirement during the estate administration process. Beneficiaries must also sign legal documentation. Delays can be caused when beneficiaries fail to do this. Delays are also frequently caused when beneficiaries live out of state or out of the country. Mail service of required legal documents alone will contribute to probate delays.

Squabbling beneficiaries can also put up serious roadblocks in the probate process. Contentions between beneficiaries can mean the probate judge is constantly being forced to delay administration because one or another of the beneficiaries is calling something into question. In some instances, problems between the beneficiaries can lead to contesting the validity of the will. One beneficiary may accuse another of something like undue influence or fraud. A will contest puts a stop to probate proceedings. The probate judge will need to hear evidence as to why someone is alleging that the will is invalid.

Probate proceedings rely on a dependable executor of the estate to keep things moving along. The executor plays a critical role in the administration of the estate and when the wrong person is appointed executor, problems can easily arise and lead to delays in probate. If the executor fails to properly perform his or her duties, removal of the executor and appointment of a new executor will likely be necessary.

Experienced Estate Planning Counsel

Proper estate planning can help ensure a smoother probate process. With the right legal tools in place, you can even avoid a lengthy probate process or even circumvent the probate process entirely. Verras Law will work with you to create an estate plan that focuses on what is important to you and what will be helpful to you and your loved ones. Contact Verras Law today.

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