Why Does Probate Take So Long?

Probate can be avoided easily but most estates still end up being dragged through the probate process. Because many people do not create an estate plan or just use a Will, probate becomes a requirement. The use of the assets are then decided by a probate judge, open to the public and become delayed getting to the beneficiaries.

The probate process can take months and sometimes even years to be settled. Below are the most common reasons probate tends to take so long.

  1. Multiple Beneficiaries – Having many beneficiaries listed in the estate takes longer to probate than if there are just a few listed. This happens because it takes time to contact all the beneficiaries. Documents will likely need to be signed and sometimes not all the beneficiaries return the documents quickly. Even with modern technology it can take a long time to reach all beneficiaries that may be spread over the United States or even the world.
  2. Estate Taxes – Estates that are required to file an estate tax return with the state and federal government tend to be complicated. Final distributions of the estate cannot be made until the return has been filed, accepted and paid in full. The IRS can take a year before they review and accept estate tax returns.
  3. Unhappy Beneficiaries – Family feuds can cause probate to drag out longer than anything else. In some cases, the personal representative has to go to the court to get permission to do anything because the beneficiaries don’t get along or won’t speak to each other. This can all take a very long time.
  4. Personal Representative – Having an irresponsible, disorganized, busy or poor money manager as the personal representative can drag out the probate process. The representative needs to be efficient and effective when handling the duties and responsibilities of serving the estate. This can be a lot of work.

What Can Be Done to Speed Up Probate?

The number one and best way to speed up the probate process is to avoid it all together. Avoiding it is the only guaranteed way to eliminate the delays caused by probate. A properly drafted and funded Revocable Living Trust will eliminate any need for probate. The stress, delays and perils of probate will be avoided.


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