When an individual dies and leaves behind a will, they wish that the conditions stipulated on the document will be administered accordingly. The will dictates who the beneficiaries are and who should administer the deceased person’s estate. You can further learn how long the probate process can take here.
The individual elected to administer the estate is often referred to as the executor. For the executors to exercise their power, they first need to seek permission from the authorities through probate. Essentially, the probate process legally allows the executor to deal with the deceased person’s assets. However, the executor must first apply for the grant of probate.
After the executor applies for probate, it often takes an average of 3 to 6 months to be granted, excluding a few potential delays. On the other hand, the whole process of probate and asset distribution is estimated by experts to take an average of 9 to 12 months until completion. However, it takes longer if the estate is complicated with multiple properties in the home country and overseas. Conversely, estates with few properties are easier to deal with, therefore taking less time.
The deceased assets can include anything within their possession at their death, ranging from money, possessions, and property. An executor can be one or more, depending on the deceased preference—and must act per the wishes stated in the will.
Will a Will Speed Up the Probate Process?
Whether or not a will is present, the timeframe for probate remains. The Will has no significant impact on how long the probate process should take. Rather, the Will clarifies the whole process by making known the beneficiaries, whatever they should each inherit, and who the administer of the estate should be. With this information upfront, the process of administering property becomes straightforward and easier to tackle.
Why Probate Process takes Long
As we’ve already noted, there could be potential delays accompanying the probate process. In addition, the timeframes for the granting of probate can dramatically vary depending on several factors.
The delays can result from the complexity of estates, pending debts, the number of beneficiaries available, or a misplaced or poorly drafted Will.
The Complexity of the Estate
With only a few estates to deal with, the process of probate can be pretty straightforward. However, the process can become complicated and slow down for estates with a bank account, house, and interest-generating businesses. The court can only take a couple of weeks to issue an affidavit if the estate involved is small. Nevertheless, you can find simplified probate options particularly outlined by the state for less complicated estates.
Until the estate settles all its pending debts, the transfer of assets to beneficiaries cannot be achieved. However, the process of paying creditors often takes time and, depending on your state’s laws, can further extend the process of probation. The state will require all the known creditors to be sent notice upon the deceased’s death, letting them know when and how long they should make their claims. For unknown creditors, a notice should be published according to the state’s directives for a certain period.
Number of Available Beneficiaries
If the number of beneficiaries is large enough, the probate process will likely take longer to complete. In addition, the executor or the attorney will take longer communicating with multiple beneficiaries, most of which might be in different locations. Nevertheless, various instances may occur when the beneficiaries disagree, which can be complicated if more than two beneficiaries are involved. They might also hire personal attorneys to oversee the probate process and monitor the executor’s steps, especially when they spot faults with the process.
Misplaced and Poorly Drafted Will
Many are times when issues arise that further extend the duration for the grant of probate.
The will can get lost or be misplaced. The original will must be filed alongside other documents during probate application, which can cause serious delays. This often occurs when the surviving beneficiaries only know the decedent left a Will but don’t know its specific location. This must then be thoroughly searched until found.
Nevertheless, the will may be poorly drafted or unclear. Lack of clarity, validity, or completion of information often causes family disagreements during probate, arguing who is entitled to what.
Similarly, the probate registry might spot errors in submitted documents, inheritance tax payments may take long before issuing a grant, and someone may challenge the will by lodging a caveat to the courts, which stops the grant of probate.