If you’re just entering the probate process because a loved one passed away, you might be curious about how long it will take to tie up the loose ends of the administration of the estate. Perhaps you’ve been appointed in the role of executor and other family members are asking you how long this whole process will take.
Probate can take anywhere from a few months to two or more years depending on the specifics of the estate, and whether there is any fighting going on. Several issues can delay probate, all of which might happen during an estate administration. Here are three common situations that will lead to a delay in the settlement and distribution of the assets in the estate.
Difficulty Locating Assets or Heirs
Executors might not be able to find the beneficiaries of the estate easily. Furthermore, not everyone leaves their New York estate in good order, so it could be hard to find certain assets or the right paperwork, like titles to property or policies of insurance. Most people don’t realize all that goes into estate administration until they’ve handled an estate settlement as the appointed personal representative. Executors and others appointed to take care of another’s affairs often have difficulty finding all the necessary paperwork or people.
Probate of a Last Will and Testament will always commence with filing the document with the Surrogates Court for the review and validation of the instrument’s authenticity and proper execution. The distribution of assets comes to a complete halt when there’s a claim that the will is invalid. The court must evaluate the claims of invalidity, and this delays the probate process substantially. Especially in the current Pandemic-affected Surrogates Court process, the court’s initial review and determination of validity can take anywhere from several weeks to many months. If there are concerns about the Will’s validity, the process comes to a halt, and will not be proceed unless and until it is determined that the Last Will and Testament if valid.
Claims Against the Executor
Heirs’ allegations that the executor has breached his or her fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries are a serious matter. First, the fact that the executor’s actions have been called into question usually indicates that the estate administration process has already come to a screeching halt. Second, if the executor’s conduct is grossly negligent, or worse criminal in nature, proceeding must be commenced to remove them which will take more time and add to the costs of Probate.
If you want to make sure your probate is as easy as possible for your loved ones, or you want to avoid probate using effective estate planning strategies, now is the time to discuss the matter with a NY estate planning lawyer with more than 30 years of experience.