The death of a loved one often brings with it many questions. If your loved one left a well-prepared estate, you may have fewer questions than many. However, someone who died intestate, meaning without a will, may leave behind confusion and disagreements.
If you are waiting to receive your share of an inheritance, you may be wondering why it is taking so long. Understanding the probate process is an important step to answering that question.
What complicates the process?
Probate is the process of settling the estate of someone who has died. It involves verifying the ownership of the property in the estate, locating and confirming the identities of any heirs, paying any lingering debts and valuating complex assets. Any one of these steps may take weeks or months, but if your loved one’s estate is complicated by any of the following, you may experience even more delays in the process:
- When someone dies without a will, the court must first appoint someone to represent the estate throughout the probate process, which delays the start of the process from the beginning.
- An estate executor who lives far from the Texas estate of your loved one may require long periods of waiting while he or she travels to deal with documentation and other matters.
- The more heirs to an estate, the more time it will take even for simple tasks like obtaining signatures.
- If even one heir disagrees with any aspect of the probate process or disputes the contents of the will, you may have to wait while the court resolves the matter.
- An estate that qualifies for estate taxes can expect an extra six months or longer of probate while the IRS processes the paperwork.
- Any debts your loved one left behind will need appropriate attention in the order of priority.
- The more complex your loved one’s assets, the longer it may take to arrive at agreeable appraisals.
Even if none of the above factors exists in your loved one’s circumstances, you can still expect probate of a simple estate to last six to eight months. At any time during the process, you may have questions or face difficult decisions. You can always reach out to a skilled attorney who can guide you through this challenging time and protect your inheritance rights throughout the probate process.