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Posted on in Probate

What Can Cause Delays During Probate?Sorting through your loved one’s possessions is a necessary activity following their death. Most families go through the probate process, in which an executor will administer the estate plan of the deceased. You may have heard horror stories about the probate process taking years and leaving bitter divisions between family members. Some people structure their estate plans so that their beneficiaries will not have to go through probate. There are several complications that can delay the probate process and increase the costs associated with it:

  1. The Estate Plan Is Out-Of-Date or Incomplete: The probate process runs most efficiently when the instructions in the estate plan are clear and thorough. When significant assets are missing from the plan, the executor and beneficiaries need to determine what the deceased person likely intended to do with the assets. This can easily lead to disagreements that must be settled in probate court. The executor also must consider the value of the missing asset, how it affects the estate’s total value, and whether there are any tax consequences.
  2. Beneficiaries Contest the Plan: Even when the estate plan has clear instructions, the beneficiaries may dispute whether it is valid or legal. Someone may claim that the deceased was manipulated into modifying their estate plan to the benefit of one person. They could also say that there is a newer version of the estate plan that supersedes the original. Sometimes, a person is upset by the instructions in the estate plan and may start a legal battle that they have little chance of winning.
  3. The Executor Declines Their Responsibility: An estate plan will name an executor, but that does not mean that the person named will accept their role. The person may have never agreed to be the executor or changed their mind about it. You must name a new executor for the estate, and a court must approve that person.
  4. You Need to Assess the Property Values: The total value of the properties in the estate will determine whether the IRS will charge an estate tax. If the estate’s estimated value is close to the threshold that triggers the tax, you may need to assess the value of each property to determine whether the estate is above the threshold.

Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Probate Attorney

The probate process can be long and emotionally charged. The best way to prepare yourself for challenges is by working with an experienced McHenry County probate lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

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What Happens If Your Loved One Dies Without a Will or Trust?When a person dies, distributing assets from their estate is one of the many issues that the survivors must sort out. In Illinois, probate is required for dividing an estate if the deceased person solely owned properties that have a total value of more than $100,000. The probate process should go smoothly if the person left a detailed last will and testament or put their assets in a trust. However, the person may have died without an estate plan or had a plan that was out-of-date or vague in its instructions. When an estate plan leaves unanswered questions, the beneficiaries must use probate to fairly divide properties or attempt to determine what the deceased person intended.

Problems with an Estate Plan

Amid the grief of losing a loved one, it can be stressful to learn that there are flaws with the estate plan that make it difficult to determine how to divide their assets. The person reviewing the estate plan may discover that it:

  • Leaves properties to someone who is deceased
  • Had not been updated since the deceased person divorced or remarried
  • Does not include significant assets that need to be distributed
  • Is invalid for reasons such as lacking a witness

You can work through some problems in an estate plan while still salvaging the rest of the plan. For instance, a property that was instructed to go to a deceased spouse may be divided among their children instead.

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