After a loved one dies, their money and assets must be distributed to the right people, either according to their will or state law (found in the default distribution scheme in its “intestacy” statute). While most people want the settlement process to be done as soon as possible, probate can take between 12 and 24 months. The time delays create unnecessary stress, especially for families who need access to those accounts or property.
5 Reasons Probate Takes So Long
There are many reasons why the probate process takes so long. Here are five of the most common:
2. Complexity. Estates with numerous or complicated accounts or property simply take longer to probate, as there are more items to be accounted for and valued. However, all probate estates have minimum time requirements built in by state law.
3. Probate court caseload. Most probate courts are dealing with high caseloads and limited staff.
4. Challenges to the will. Heirs, beneficiaries, and those who thought they’d be beneficiaries, can object to and challenge the will’s instructions and legal requirements. While state law dictates the length of the time period during which they must object, will challenges can add years to the probate process. Some of the most common challenges include assertions that the will maker was:
- Lacking sufficient mental capacity to make a will
- Subject to undue influence (wrongful pressure to do something they didn’t want to do)
- A victim of fraud
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.
Avoiding Probate with a Trust Is Better
Simply put, had the deceased person created a trust to hold their accounts and property, the long, complicated probate process could have been avoided. By creating and funding a trust, those accounts and property are no longer viewed as being owned by the deceased person and are not subject to the supervision of the court. Their distribution is controlled by the instructions left in the trust agreement. Administering a trust instead of a probate is usually quicker – meaning that beneficiaries receive assets more quickly, costs are reduced, and stress levels are kept to a minimum.
Take Action Now
First, if you need help settling a probate estate, we can help you move the process along and remove some of the burden so you can move on with your life. Second, we can help you make sure you never burden your loved ones the way you’ve been burdened. How? We’ll show you how to avoid probate with a trust. Give us a call today. As an added convenience to our clients, we are able to meet by phone or via video conferencing if you prefer.