What Causes Probate Delays?

When we discuss estate planning, one of the first things we recommend is to avoid probate. Not only does probate eat up time during an already difficult moment in your life, but it can also be expensive. In addition, several common problems can also delay probate by considerable amounts. This makes it even more expensive. So it pays to know what you might be up for and what’s causing the delay if you’re facing down probate. You probably have questions about what delays probate. We hear many of them, so let’s go over some of these questions before hitting the most common probate delay causes.

Do Large Estates Take Longer in Probate?

Yes. Absolutely. Large estates, or those with rare and unique assets, require a much more detailed plan to execute. You can also predict that a large estate means a large inventory as a practical matter. A large inventory means it takes a long time to distribute assets. High art, collectibles, and antiques are all hard to value. In addition, appraisal services are usually needed, which also adds time.

Additional beneficiaries also make probate take longer. More than three beneficiaries tend to cause delays just due to sending so much information and notices. Many of this correspondence needs a signature, as well. It’s a lot of mailing back and forth and waiting for every party to catch up. The more people there are, the more likely it is for a dispute to kick up. If a beneficiary contests any part of the will, probate proceedings stop.

It can seem like probate is lagging behind the rest of the world that has become so efficient and convenient. However, learning the most common reasons for probate delays can better explain the situation. These are the four most common reasons:

1) Waiting for Inter-Departmental Responses

Up to a quarter of all probate cases are delayed, and the biggest reason is waiting for financial institutions like banks. In most cases, there is a wait of at least weeks to get information from liability providers. Sometimes it can take twice that long!

2) Slow Response Times

A third of all probate cases need at least 50 letters to resolve. That’s a lot of time with mail sent in transit. But, on the other hand, these manual, old-fashioned means are often the most secure way to send sensitive information. It’s also faster than the digital means, which requires additional verification.

3) Taking Asset Inventory

As many as 15% of all executors report having no idea they were executors until the decedent’s passing. If you’ve waited to tell your executor to help out until your death, you waited too long. Unfortunately, this can catch people unprepared as they acclimate themselves to the role.

4) General Delays

Because probate work is still done with paperwork, there is a manual labor delay. Most cases have at least 25 letters sent back and forth to various institutions. This is one reason why many people who experience probate say that the process needs revision. Mourning is hard enough without an antiquated process like probate.

Avoid forcing your loved ones to experience this process. Instead, get in touch with a qualified estate planning attorney like those at Dowd Law, and consider forming a living trust for most of your assets. This helps your family avoid probate after your passing.