Without proper planning, a person’s estates will be distributed through a probate process after the person’s death. This judicial-administrative process is lengthy and it may take years until a final resolution is reached. Hiring specialized lawyers and consultants is recommended and will greatly speed up the process, since experts know what documents are needed and the exact steps of the probate. But first, let’s analyze the reasons for which a probate process lasts so long.
1. Estates that have multiple beneficiaries. It should not come as a surprise the fact that a probate involving many beneficiaries takes longer. It will take more time to communicate with each person and transmit documents for signing. And not all beneficiaries may sign the documents very quickly and return them to the next beneficiary in line. Things become more difficult when we are dealing with persons on the opposite sides of the United States or, why not, persons living outside the U.S.
2. Family quarrels. A probate can also take a lot of time when there’s a family feud and every member wants a bigger share of inheritance. In this case, any minor aspect must be decided by the probate judge. As you can imagine, having to involve the court and ask permission for everything will slow the probate tremendously.
3. When the estate has to file a tax return. Estate distribution cannot start until all taxes are paid. And due to legislation, IRS does not even begin to process an estate’s return tax form until at least three to four months after the return has been filed. From there, it will take other several months until the tax return is actually processed. And if you are “lucky” enough to be asked more info from the IRS, expect to add 4 more months until the processing starts again.
4. Assets difficult to evaluate or distribute. When we talk about distributing a terrain, things are easy. But when we are talking about collections, herds of animals, invention patents and other unusual items, passing them to inheritors requires an in-depth analysis. Evaluating them is difficult and when a value is decided, the IRS can decide that the assets are taxable and they will want a tax return. And that brings us back to the previous point, where you have to file a tax return and wait for IRS’s confirmation. Without it, the probate remains open.