One reason that people want to avoid probate is because the process sometimes takes a long time. Heirs to an estate may have to wait months or even a year until probate is complete. Probate does not have to last long, though. There are usually reasons why probate takes more time than it should.
If you are making your estate plans, there are things you can do to help minimize the chances that probate will become a protracted process. Understanding the reasons for slow probate can be a good step in that direction.
You probably want a child or a close relative to serve as your estate executor. But if your executor choice has problems navigating the duties of an executor, it can drag out probate. CNBC explains that your executor might not have enough time to devote to your estate because of family obligations. Also, if your executor cannot carry out multiple tasks, it can cause delays.
While your executor does not need to be a financial expert to be an executor, your executor should still be able to handle certain financial duties like dealing with outstanding taxes and debts that you owe after your death. If your executor does not know how to handle these issues, it could lead to litigation by creditors and a further drawing out of probate.
Executor problems can sometimes lead to conflict with beneficiaries. If your heirs think your executor is mishandling the estate, they might go to court to remove your executor. Even if they do not have a problem with your executor, they still might litigate the will if they have issues with it.
It is possible that your family situation is fine and you do not anticipate probate litigation. Still, probate might slow down if your executor candidate unexpectedly dies before you do and you did not name a backup. Also, your estate heirs might live out of state. It could take time for your executor to notify them of their inheritance.
Unclear estate plans
You should also do what you can to make your estate plans specific. Anything that sounds unclear could become the subject of litigation. Make sure you have a will. If you do not have a will, a court will decide what will become of your estate, which will likely drag out probate.