Probate is the judicial process in which a will is proved valid in court. While probate can typically be wrapped up within a year, sometimes it can take longer. This can indeed be frustrating to all the beneficiaries waiting for their inheritances. Here are a few factors that can slow down the probate process.
Assets That Are Difficult to Value
While homes and financial accounts are easy to assign a value to, other assets are a little more difficult to value. Items like rare baseball cards, patents and oil or mineral rights. The estate has to file a tax return on these assets. The executor of the estate and IRS may have very different opinions on the actual value of unique assets. This can definitely make the probate process take longer.
The more beneficiaries an estate has, the longer it will take to settle. The executor has to notify each beneficiary about what is going on and some beneficiaries may not be that easy to find. Beneficiaries must also sign multiple documents. In cases with many beneficiaries, there are usually at least one or two people that need multiple reminders to return their documents.
Assets in Multiple States
If the decedent has property in more than one state, there will typically be multiple probate processes. Dealing with more than one probate process can take a lot of time.
Beneficiaries Live Far Away
Over the years, it is not uncommon for family members to move to different states. Some may stay in California while others may relocate to states like Illinois or Texas. When beneficiaries are spread throughout the country, it may take longer to reach them or they may take longer to respond.
Beneficiaries Contest the Will
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for beneficiaries to be unhappy about the terms in a will. If they believe that they are not getting their fair share, they might hire their own lawyer and contest the will. This can definitely drag out the probate process.
Sometimes people do not choose the right executor to handle their estate. If the executor is disorganized or busy with other obligations, it can certainly slow the probate process.