Many beneficiaries and personal representatives aren’t really aware of what the probate process entails when they’re first thrust into it. They generally only learn this as things progress.
While everyone usually hopes that the probate process will go quickly and easily, different factors can slow this process down. Read on to learn more.
Problems with beneficiaries
Personal representatives have many responsibilities when a testator dies. One of them is to notify all the testator’s heirs of their passing. Tracking down contact information for some heirs can take more time than the executor may anticipate, thus resulting in delays in the probate case — especially when documents need to be passed back and forth.
Accounting for rare assets
Another responsibility that personal representatives have is inventorying, preserving the value of, having an appraisal performed on and liquidating assets to pay a testator’s debts or to distribute assets to heirs. All of this can take time to do if a testator has particularly rare collections or unique rights like mineral ones that need addressing.
Filing a tax return can take time
Yet another responsibility a personal responsibility has is filing a testator’s final tax return. The inventory and liquidation of assets must happen before a personal representative can sit down to do this. There may be both a federal estate tax return, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 706 that the personal representative needs to file. States sometimes have estate or inheritance tax returns that they need to pay, too, no matter if the testator lived there when they died or previously did or merely owned property there.
Other reasons that may cause probate delays
Replacements of personal representatives that fail to uphold their fiduciary duties or pass away or beneficiary disputes can also drag out the probate process.
While avoiding potential probate delays is often avoidable, there are steps you can take to minimize the chances of a dispute spiraling out of control. A probate attorney can go over the different strategies you may employ to avoid that happening.