After a loved one dies, their money and property must be distributed to the right people, either
according to their will or the state’s default distribution scheme (found in its “intestacy” statute). While
most people want the settlement process to be done ASAP, probate can take between 18 and 24
months. Yes, you heard that right. The time delays create unnecessary stress, especially for families
who need access to those accounts or property.
5 Reasons Probate Takes So Long
There are many reasons why the probate process takes so long. Here are five of the most common:
1. Paperwork. Managing probate-required paperwork can be a monumental undertaking with
structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines.
2. Complexity. Estates with numerous or complicated accounts or property simply take longer to
probate, as there are more items to be accounted for and valued.
3. Probate court caseload. Most probate courts are dealing with high caseloads and limited
Challenges to the will. Heirs, beneficiaries, and those who thought they’d be beneficiaries,
can object to and challenge the will’s instructions and legal requirements. While state law
dictates the length of the time period during which they must object, will challenges can add
years to the probate process. Some of the most common challenges include assertions that
the will maker was:
- Lacking testamentary capacity (i.e., lacking the legal or mental ability to make a will)
- Subject to undue influence (wrongful pressure to do something they didn’t want to do)
- A victim of fraud
Creditor Notification. The deceased person’s creditors must be notified of the deceased
person’s passing and the probating of their estate so they have time to submit any legal claims
for debts. This time period also varies from state to state, but it is generally four to nine
The bottom line is that, while most state probate laws are designed to keep the process moving along
in a timely manner, that’s more of a plan than a reality.
Simply Put, Avoiding Probate with a Trust Is Better
Simply put, had the deceased person created a trust to hold their accounts and property, the long,
complicated probate process could have been avoided. By creating and funding a trust, those
accounts and property are no longer viewed as being owned by the deceased person and are not
subject to the supervision of the court. Their distribution is controlled by the instructions left in the trust
agreement. Administering a trust instead of a probate is usually quicker – meaning that beneficiaries
receive assets more quickly, costs are reduced, and stress levels are kept to a minimum.
Take Action Now
First, if you need help settling a probate estate, we can help you move the process along and remove
some of the burden so you can move on with your life. Second, we can help you make sure you never
burden your loved ones the way you’ve been burdened. How? We’ll show you how to avoid probate
with a trust. Give us a call today. As an added convenience to our clients, we are able to meet via
video conferencing if you prefer.