After the death of a family member, there may be numerous reasons why you would want the probate process for his or her estate to end quickly. You may have traveled from outside North Carolina and want to return to your home state. Perhaps you are counting on an inheritance the deceased promised you. It could be that you suspect the process is taking longer than it should, and you want to know what the holdup may be.
If you have never gone through the probate process before, you may be unfamiliar with its purpose and the reason it sometimes takes a considerable amount of time. It may help to have an understanding of the steps your relative's estate must pass through and the factors that may bog the process down.
What happens during probate?
Probate typically takes between nine months and a year, barring complications. However, every estate has its peculiarities, and your loved one's may be no different. The probate process has several purposes, first of which is to establish and validate that the deceased is truly who you deem him or her to be and that the estate belongs to the deceased.
Similarly, the court will need to verify the existence, identity and location of anyone included in the will or, if there is no will, who may be legally eligible for a share of the estate. Finally, probate allows time for creditors to claim any debt the deceased may owe and to allow for heirs to dispute the contents of the will.
What can slow down probate?
With so many people and factors involved in probate, you may see that it is often a wonder the process goes as quickly as it does. There are, however, elements that can delay its conclusion, for example:
- The estate contains complex assets that are priceless or need appraisal.
- The estate is valued above the exemption for federal estate tax.
- There are numerous heirs.
- The heirs stir up conflict.
Someone may decide to contest the will, which means he or she believes part or all of it is invalid. There are only a few valid reasons why a court will consider an argument against the will, and achieving a successful contest is rare. However, the process may bring a halt to probate, and you may wait even longer for your share of the inheritance.