After a loved one passes away, his or her estate and assets will typically go through probate. This is the legal process of identifying and distributing property, paying off debts and generally resolving a person’s financial affairs.
It can be a complicated and frustrating process, and people often want to get through it as quickly as possible. While some cases are resolved in a matter of weeks, events can arise that delay the probate process.
Disputes over the will
Will contests can become bitter, lengthy court battles that can extend the probate process considerably. Often, these cases involve claims of undue influence, forgery or invalid documents that require careful inspection and legal attention. The probate process cannot continue until a will contest claim has been resolved.
It is also worth mentioning that will disputes can also create or exacerbate tension between family members, which can also hinder the probate process.
Issues with the administrator
Estate administrators have considerable responsibilities and duties to perform. If they fail to do so in a timely manner, make avoidable mistakes or engage in misconduct, then probate can take much longer.
Administrators can avoid these issues by working with an attorney who can help them avoid mistakes and stay on top of the many tasks for which they are responsible.
Difficulty tracking down property
As noted in Tennessee probate laws, property that a person owns in his or her sole name at the time he or she passes away are assets that require probate. These assets include bank accounts, real estate, life insurance policies, jewelry, furniture and motor vehicles.
However, to distribute these assets, an administrator must first track them down. If someone is attempting to conceal something or no one knows where to find a specific item, it can delay the probate process.
Avoiding delays during probate
Delays for any reason can be frustrating during probate. However, they can and do happen when people disagree over what should happen. To avoid or minimize delays, people should be sure they have clear, comprehensive and valid estate planning documents in place. Should disagreements arise, parties can work with an attorney to pursue a swift, fair resolution to the matter.