After a loved one dies, her estate must be settled. While most people want the settlement process to be done ASAP, probate can take between 18 and 24 months. Yes, you heard that right. The time delays create unnecessary stress.
5 Reasons Probate Takes So Long
There are many reasons why probating a will takes so long. Here are five of the most common:
- Paperwork. Managing probate required paperwork can be a monumental undertaking with structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines.
- Complexity. Estates with numerous or complicated assets simply take longer to probate as there are more items to be accounted for and valued.
- Probate court caseload. Most probate courts are dealing with high caseloads and limited staff.
- Challenges to the will. Heirs, beneficiaries, and those, who thought they’d be beneficiaries, can object to and challenge the will’s terms and legality. While state law dictates how long they have to object, will challenges can add years to the process. Common challenges include that the testator was:
- Lacking testamentary capacity
- Subject to undue influence
- A victim of fraud
- Creditor Notification. A will’s executor must notify the decedent’s creditors so they have time to submit claims for debts. This time period varies from state to state as well, but it is generally six to nine months.
The bottom line is that, while most state probate laws are designed to keep the process moving along in a timely manner, that's more of a plan than a reality.
Simply Put, Avoiding Probate with a Trust Is Better
Simply put, having assets in a trust is better. Administration generally only takes six to eight months total – meaning that the process is not tied up in court, beneficiaries get assets faster, costs are reduced, and stress levels are kept to a minimum.