Part of the estate administration process is probate. Probate is the legal process of handling the deceased’s estate. This begins when an executor of the estate submits a valid will to probate court, which then allows the executor to do their fiduciary duty.
An executor’s fiduciary duty involves collecting death certificates, paying taxes and debts, contracting beneficiaries and heirs, distributing assets and closing the estate.
Probate can take as little as four months to over two years depending on a few factors, such as the size of an estate. However, the probate process can take much longer. Here’s how that happens:
What would cause a delay in probate?
Probate delays happen for many reasons. Some delays happen because the validity of a will is put in question. An heir or beneficiary may, for example, believe that a will is fake or incorrect. Perhaps this would happen if there were no witnesses to attest that the will is valid or if there were multiple wills. These issues could lead to a will contest.
Another issue is whether the testator lacked testamentary capacity when the will was made. In other words, the testator was not believed to be mentally capable of making a will.
Or, the testator could have been influenced to make a will. A guardian, power of attorney, relative or spouse may have pushed them into making a will that went against their wishes.
Many people hand-make their wills. While this is possible, this can also lead to inaccuracies. A testator who handmade their will or found a premade will online may not consider Washington state laws.
Beneficiaries and heirs don’t like to hear that probate could delay the closing of the deceased’s estate. It may be possible to get legal help to resolve probate issues.