What Can Cause Delays in Probate Proceedings?

Many people try to avoid probate for several reasons. These reasons can include the fact that probate can be quite costly. It is also a matter of public record which means that you lack the privacy you may want for a process that can involve some more personal affairs. It can also be time-consuming. Probate can take several months and up to a year or more to complete. The length of time it takes probate proceedings to wrap up can also depend on several other things. So, what causes delays in probate proceedings? Let us talk more about that here.

What Can Cause Delays in Probate Proceedings?

If an estate has over two or three beneficiaries, it is much more likely that probate proceedings will be prolonged. During probate, beneficiaries have to be notified as to what is going on in the process. It is legally required during estate administration proceedings. There are also a number of documents that every beneficiary will need to sign. The more beneficiaries, the more likely this is to take longer and that one or two or more of the beneficiaries will drag their feet in returning the required paperwork. This will all, in turn, lead to delays in probate proceedings. Beneficiaries can also cause delays in probate proceedings if they live far away. Again, this is because of things like the notice requirements regarding beneficiaries and the requisite forms beneficiaries will need to sign and return.

Beneficiaries can also be the source of lengthy probate delays when there are things such as family fights and feuds going on. Probate can be an emotionally charged process under the best of circumstances as it follows the death of someone. It can also involve money, which is another big breaking point for people. When beneficiaries do not get along or are not happy with what they were left in the decedent’s estate, things can get very messy. Objections in the probate proceedings can arise, will contests can be brought. All of these things will need to be addressed by the court, causing delays.

Assets can also be a cause of delays. If the decedent owned assets in different states, this is also likely to cause delays in probate proceedings. Having property in different states means that ancillary probate may need to be opened in these other states. With ancillary probate, as well as primary probate proceedings, happening simultaneously and in different states, things can get complicated and take a significant amount of time more than if it was only primary probate going on.

Estates with large amounts of assets will usually take longer to go through probate as will estates that have more unusual assets. Unusual assets, in this sense, refers to those assets that may be more difficult to value. These are things like business interests, rare collectibles, patents, artwork, and more. The valuing and proper distribution of these assets may require an expert to be retained. A delay in valuing the estate’s assets can compound another source or probate delays, which is the filing of the estate tax return.

Pittsburgh Estate Planning Attorney

As you can see, there are good reasons why people try to avoid probate. If you want to establish a strong estate plan that avoids probate in whole or in part, talk to the knowledgeable attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace.  Contact us today.