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Why is probate taking so long?

After an elderly parent dies, there are many things to take care of. You may have funeral plans to make, extended family and friends to contact and last-minute details to attend to. Of course, your primary concern is to take comfort in those who shared your love for your family member.

However, at some point, you and the rest of your family will have to deal with the estate. This means beginning the probate process. Probate is the legal procedure that closes your loved one's estate by confirming his or her identity, the identity of the heirs, the value of the assets in the estate and other details. As much as you may be ready to move on and resume your normal life, probate may be necessary, and it may take time.

How long will it take?

There are numerous steps to the probate process, and some steps cannot move forward until the previous matters are complete. This means that, at any time, the process may stall or break down altogether. Some of the most common reasons for a delay in the completion of probate include the following:

  • Your loved one named many beneficiaries, some of whom live far away. Since many probate documents require original signatures, the distance can be an issue that interrupts the process.
  • The executor of the estate is not local. Again, when original signatures are necessary, having the relevant parties close by can make a difference in the length of probate.
  • An heir is threatening to contest the will. Although there are limited grounds for disputing a will, if any grounds exist, probate stops to address them.
  • Your heir's estate owes many debts. Dealing with creditors, especially tax entities, can be time-consuming, and probate requires the executor to prioritize and pay the debts before moving forward.
  • The complexity of your loved one's assets may affect the length of probate. Assets that are rare or difficult to valuate may stall probate indefinitely.
  • Disputes arise concerning the value of assets, the actions of the executor, the ownership of property or other matters.

It is often difficult to predict how quickly probate might go, but a simple estate with no complications may still take several months. The executor of your loved one's estate has the option of obtaining the services of a Michigan attorney to handle the legal matters. This may relieve some of the stress and reduce the chances of mistakes that could prolong the process.

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