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Why can the probate process take such a long time?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2024 | Probate

The time after a loved one dies could feel confusing or overwhelming. Probate, the legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate, often has a long waiting period.

Some key steps are contributing to the seemingly endless duration of probate.

Verifying and gathering documents

The first phase of probate involves the scrutiny and collection of various documents. 45% of adults in the United States say that they have a living will as of 2020. From the deceased’s will to financial statements, every piece of paperwork demands careful attention.

Professionals must verify each document for authenticity, a process that ensures the accurate representation of the deceased’s wishes. This step alone can take a while, as it involves locating and validating every relevant document.

Notifying creditors

Once the documentation is complete, the next hurdle is addressing outstanding debts and notifying creditors. The legal system requires an examination of the deceased’s financial obligations, and those in charge must inform any creditors. This step is important for a fair distribution of assets, but it extends the probate timeline.

Resolving disputes and challenges

Probate can grind to a halt if disputes or challenges to the will arise. Family members or other interested parties may contest the distribution of assets. This can lead to long legal battles. Resolving these conflicts may take a lot of time, requiring additional hearings and court appearances.

Waiting for real estate transactions

If the deceased owned real estate, the probate process could be further delayed by the complexities of property transactions. Selling or transferring ownership of real property involves multiple legal steps and market conditions may slow people down. The intricacies of real estate dealings can extend the timeline of probate.

Probate may lead to frustration and anxiety in some cases. Understanding the factors that lead to delays gives individuals the knowledge needed to navigate probate efficiently.