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  • Nicole J. Zuvich

Why do larger estates take longer to go through probate?

Updated: Sep 27

Proper planning can guide your estate efficiently through the probate process. However, even if you craft a valid will, your estate may still take months or even years to complete probate if you have a larger estate. This is because certain characteristics of a big estate can lengthen probate.

Policy Genius provides a look at some aspects of a large estate that may result in a longer probate period.

The number of assets

If you have accumulated many assets in your life, your executor will need to contact your asset holders after your death. These may include your bank, stock brokerages, insurance carriers and anyone who manages your pensions. Your will may dictate what happens to some of your accounts, but many of them will likely have their own beneficiary designations. Your executor may need a year or longer to sort out these details.

Dealing with creditor claims

Your executor will also have to deal with your personal debts that remain after you die. Your executor must give your creditors notice so they can file claims against your estate. It is also possible your executor might challenge creditor claims if they do not seem valid. Even if you have made plans to settle your debts, it may still take months to contact all the necessary parties and settle their claims.

Filing estate taxes

The complexity and wealth of your estate may increase the number of taxes your estate will owe, such as federal or state estate taxes. Depending on your financial interests, these taxes may require a professional to sort out and pay. For this reason, your estate plan should provide for someone to file your estate’s taxes, particularly someone who knows how to handle complex assets and large estates.

You may avoid unnecessary probate delays by making sure you have a strong will that may survive court challenges. Creating a trust for your heirs might also reduce the amount of your estate that goes through probate. Given that estates can strongly differ by individual, your estate plans should reflect your own priorities.

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