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What factors may delay the probate process, and how can you avoid them?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2021 | Estate Administration And Probate |

California and other states have similar processes in place for handling a testator’s estate. They generally require the estate to pass through the probate process whether the decedent had a will in place or not. 

The probate process generally takes up to a year to complete. Some factors, however, may slow down this process considerably. The more you know about the causes of probate delays, the easier it is to avoid them. With that in mind, here are the most common reasons the probate process will start to lag:

Notifying beneficiaries

Generally, the more beneficiaries an estate has, the longer it may take to settle it. 

Beneficiaries’ names may be readily identifiable in a will, yet their updated contact information often isn’t. Finding such information so that the personal representative can notify the beneficiary of the testator’s passing, secure their signature on documents and receive them back can take time, thus delaying the probate process. 

Final tax returns

The California personal representative’s filing of the testator’s state and federal tax returns and amounts due can also delay the probate process. The distribution of assets can’t occur until this process is complete. 

Assets in multiple states

It may be necessary for a personal representative to file a testator’s will in each state in which that individual owned property. This process could take time if a testator had an extensive real estate portfolio.

Possession of diverse assets

A testator’s ownership of rare assets such as collectibles, mineral or intellectual property rights may also slow the probate process. The valuation and subsequent liquidation of these assets can take time. A beneficiary may even have to take possession of them as-is if they want to settle the estate without delay.


Any issue that leads to a contested will could extend the probate process. So too could the removal of a personal representative or executor. Fighting amongst the heirs is a common problem that leads to delays.

The purpose of estate planning is to take proactive measures to ensure that the courts and your loved ones honor your final wishes. Included in this is ensuring that your property passes on seamlessly to others. An experienced estate administration attorney can advise you on what measures you need to take to ensure that this process goes smoothly. 

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