Factors That Lengthen Probate and Assistance a Probate Lawyer Provides
According to the American Bar Association, the length of time for probate for an average estate is between six and nine months even with a probate lawyer. In contrast, the Estate Exec conducted a survey in 2018 that found these settlements, on average, usually take 16 months.
When it comes to how long the process takes, you will find that your state’s probate laws play a part in the length of the process. If you have no siblings, and there is a will, the probate process can be over in as little as three weeks. At a minimum, though, you should expect 8 to 12 weeks. So what are the variables that impact the length of the probate process?
The Probate Laws of Your State
Probate rules are different in different states. In states like Texas, you will find that the process is simplified in a way that there is not a lot of court oversight. As a result, probate could be done in a few weeks. In states with more oversight, the process could take a maximum of two years.
The good news is 18 states are working to simplify their probate process through the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), which is approved by the American Bar Association. Whether these states have adopted the UPC partly or wholly, they have improved the process, shortening the amount of time necessary to complete probate.
If the assets of the estate are in multiple states, this can make the probate process less streamlined. For example, if most of the assets are in Texas, including the primary home, you will have to start primary probate proceedings in Texas. If there is a vacation property in Florida, you will then have to initiate ancillary probate proceedings in Florida.
The Size and Value of the Estate
Not only will you have to consider the state you are involved in probate proceedings, but you will also have to factor in the size of the estate. More assets mean more time for decisions to be made. It also means more paperwork.
The value of the estate can take precedent over the number of assets. So if the estate has a value under $500,000, the proceedings can be wrapped up in less than 14 months. For estates that are worth more, the process can take 16 to 42 months.
In order to figure out how much the estate is worth, it really depends on what kind of assets are involved. Certain laws determine which assets need to go through probate and which ones don’t need to.
A house almost always needs to go through the probate process. This is an almost universal requirement. There are some states, however, that make it possible to shorten or forego probate proceedings for properties that are considered low value.
In Arizona, an estate that is less than $100,000 only requires that you turn in a small estate affidavit to get your inheritance.
Heirs Can’t Agree
The more heirs and beneficiaries are involved, the longer the probate process can take. Even if the estate is of lesser value, the process can still take a long time depending on the number of beneficiaries. If all the heirs are working together, the probate process can be completed in a shorter period of time.
It is normal for siblings to fight. However, it can be an issue because it can sometimes bring the probate process to a halt. The biggest problem can be when one of the beneficiaries contests the will, but smaller issues can also delay probate. Something as small as arguing over the budget for replacing the flooring in the house can derail the process.
The Will and a Probate Lawyer
Usually, conflict can be resolved by a will. The estate executor can also make a deciding vote. There may be a situation, though, when the will isn’t clear enough. It may not be properly signed or notarized. There may not even be a will.
A will makes the probate process easier and shorter. A will that is created properly will have specific instructions from the decedent on how the estate should be dissolved. A personal representative or executor is also named in the will to lead the proceedings.
Even with a valid will, you may still have to go through probate. With certain estates, you may need probate as a way to carry out the terms in the will. This is especially important if the decedent has debts that need to be paid off. This needs to be done before the beneficiaries can take the assets for themselves.
Certain mistakes in a will can make probate necessary. If the decedent didn’t sign the will properly or have a witness for the signing of the will, this can be an issue. Another issue is the decedent didn’t update the will.
Even if the will is valid, beneficiaries can still contest it. They could claim that the only reason the decedent signed the will is that he or she was coerced. They can also say the decedent was mentally incompetent or was unaware of what was written in the will when he or she signed it. Contesting a will isn’t recommended. The legal costs to put in a complaint and uphold the will can deplete the value of the estate.
If there is no will and no beneficiaries, the state will get the estate. However, if there are family members, the state will use the probate process to disperse the estate. Depending on the state, intestate succession laws usually dictate the process when there is no will.
For small estates, even if there is no will, probate is not always necessary. In some states, the probate process is either simplified or removed altogether for low-value estates. It may even be possible for some larger estates to qualify for the simplifications that small estates can use. A probate attorney can help with this process.
A House Is Involved
If the estate includes a house, probate is almost always necessary. This is because selling the decedent’s home is a part of dissolving the estate. Selling a house can be a long and difficult process, especially during probate.
You are not legally allowed to do anything with the house until you are the personal representative or executor. You can’t hire a real estate agent. You can’t even clean it or paint it. You can use a probate agent to figure out the value of the home. If the home has a low value, you may not need to go through the probate process.
If the decedent’s house is in a living trust, the appointed successor can manage the trust after the decedent dies without having to be appointed by the probate court. If a married couple owns a home together, probate can also be avoided. Estates that allow for transfer on a death deed or a beneficiary deed can avoid probate.
There are a few things that determine the time it takes to go through probate. Probate laws vary from state to state. The size and value of the estate can affect the time probate takes. Beneficiaries disagreeing and issues with the will can also affect processing time. If a house is included in the estate, it can also cause a delay.
A probate attorney can help with this process. Finding a probate attorney in Las Vegas is possible. A probate lawyer in Las Vegas will make the probate process more time-efficient. This way, you won’t be spending more time in probate court than you need to. Contact a probate lawyer today.