At Stepp & Sullivan, P.C., our probate attorneys in Houston, Texas know that the process of distributing a deceased’s person’s estate is a unique journey for each of our clients and their loved ones.
Generally speaking, when someone passes away and has decided to leave their friends or family their assets by naming beneficiaries in their Will or Trust, the estate will go into probate to legally recognize a person’s death and rule on the distribution of his or her estate and assets after overseeing the payment of their debts.
For straightforward estates, the court should have a resolution within six months.
However, there are usually reasons why probate takes more time, and it often has to do with unclear estate plans, or executor or beneficiary issues, which may include the will being contested.
Here are the most common reasons the probate process takes longer than it should.
The Estate Plans are Unclear
When completing a Will or Trust, it is important the estate plans are specifically outlined to leave no confusion regarding how the directions can be construed.
Anything that sounds confusing or unclear could become the subject of litigation, which will extensively prolong the probate process.
If you do not have a will, the court will dictate how your estate is distributed, so the deceased’s wishes — which may have been verbally discussed with family members — are no longer relevant or valid, which will certainly prolong the probate process.
Do not allow the courts to decide how your estate is divided. Create a Will that expresses your wishes directly, so there is no delay in the probate process later.
The Executor Cannot Handle the Necessary Duties
When a person outlines a Will or Trust and names an executor, that person is responsible for carrying out the instructions to manage the affairs and wishes of the deceased.
If the executor named by your loved one cannot carry out those duties effectively, the probate process is going to take longer than it should.
While your executor does not need to be a financial expert, he or she should be able to handle financial duties like outlining assets and debts, calculating outstanding taxes, and any other creditor issues that could lead to litigation later, which will further delay the probate process.
Navigating the duties of an executor also requires time. And if he or she does not have it to give, for personal, professional, or family reasons, the estate will remain idle until they do.
Beneficiary Issues Arise During the Probate Process
Beneficiaries may have several issues with their deceased loved one’s Will once it is presented.
First, they may believe the executor is mishandling the estate, and wish to go to court to remove that person from their duties.
Next, they may contest the Will, if they believe what is outlined therein is not what their loved one wanted and can argue the terms of the Will with the court for an alternative resolution.
Each of these actions may potentially prolong the probate process for months or even years.
Contact Our Probate Attorneys in Houston Today to Schedule an Initial Consultation
If you are making estate plans, you can help minimize the chances that probate will become a protracted process by ensuring your Will is clear and concise, and that the executor named therein can fulfill the duties included in the contract.
If you would like help ensuring your wishes are carried out, contact our experienced probate attorneys in Houston today at (713) 987-7182 or online to move forward with confidence and ensure your loved ones can navigate the probate process with minimal delays.