Could probate move along faster?

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2021 | Trust And Probate Litigation

When someone passes away, probate may soon commence addressing the administration of the decedent’s estate. Often, probate follows the directives presented in a last will and testament, and the process could take time. Some may wonder if there are ways to expedite probate in California. Speeding up the process might be possible, within reason.

Factors contributing to a longer probate process

Probate might move slower when there are several beneficiaries involved. Correspondence between the estate’s executor and the beneficiaries could drag out, and it may take time to distribute assets. For example, if the will requires selling two houses and distributing the funds among six beneficiaries, probate may require months to close. If there is only one beneficiary receiving one home and no requirement to liquidate the property, the process could move faster.

Also, probate involves paying off the estate’s debts. Are there several debts to multiple entities? Is the executor moving swiftly with paying off the obligations? Taking steps to determine what the testator owed and paying the obligations without delays could push probate to a swifter close.

Are the beneficiaries and heirs in agreement with the will? If not, then one or more parties with standing may choose to contest the document. Unfortunately, even a frivolous action might extend things.

Estates may come with tax obligations. Besides addressing the testator’s federal and state income tax obligations, there might be federal and state inheritance tax issues.

Not everyone dies with a will, either. If not, then the courts could oversee the administration under California’s intestate succession laws. The courts might move slower than an executor would.

Engaging in estate planning

Performing thorough estate planning could help move the probate process more expeditiously. A detailed will, drawn up with an attorney’s assistance, might not end up easily contested. Naming beneficiaries to accounts could allow assets to pass outside of probate.

Keeping a file that reveals all accounts, debts, properties, passwords and other essential items might prove helpful. The file may need to be easily accessible to the executor, as well.

Expediting probate might be possible through effective estate planning. However, there might be unavoidable issues that add time.