Probate refers to the legal process in which a will is proven valid in court. As an experienced probate lawyer from Carpenter & Lewis PLLC explains, sometimes probate can be completed within a year, and other times it can take a lot longer. When the process takes a long time to complete, it can be frustrating to beneficiaries. They have to wait a while to receive their inheritances.
Here are some things that slow down probate.
Generally, the more beneficiaries there are, the longer the probate process will take. The executor must notify each beneficiary of the death and probate process. Unfortunately, some beneficiaries are more difficult to locate than others. The executor may have to spend more time finding certain beneficiaries, which can slow down the probate process. Additionally, some beneficiaries may take a while to sign documents, which can slow things down.
Being the executor of an estate is a big job, so it is important for the testator to choose one wisely. However, some people may still not select the right executor. If the executor is too busy with other obligations or is disorganized, it can drag out the probate process.
Assets That Are Difficult to Value
Certain assets, like houses and bank accounts, are easy to assign a value to. However, there may be certain assets in a person’s estate that are more tricky to value. For example, artwork, rare baseball cards and patents, may be trickier to value than other assets. People may have different opinions on how much each asset is worth, which can slow down probate.
Challenging the Will
Unfortunately, not all beneficiaries are satisfied with terms of the will. If they believe that they aren’t being treated fairly, they may decide to contest the will in court and hire their own attorney. This can slow down probate and make things more stressful on everyone.
Assets in Multiple States
Some testators may have assets in more than one state. Unfortunately, this can slow down the probate process. There will have to be multiple probate processes.
How to Avoid Probate
Since there are so many factors that can slow down the probate process, you may want to take the necessary steps to skip probate. Here are a few ways you can do that.
- Establish a trust. One of the most effective ways to avoid probate is to create a living trust. The assets you put in a trust will not be subject to probate. As a result, your heirs will receive them faster.
- Joint ownership of property. If you own a property with another person, that property will go directly to the joint owner after you die. This is another way to avoid probate.
- Beneficiary designations. Certain assets, like retirement accounts and life insurance policies, have designated beneficiaries. These assets will pass directly to the beneficiaries without going through probate.
If you have additional questions about probate, you should get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible.