It’s tough to think about your own death, but you want your passing to be as gentle as possible for your loved ones when that time comes. That means making sure you have the most effective estate plan possible.
Unfortunately, mistakes in your estate planning process today can end up putting your heirs through a long, complicated probate process in the future.
The biggest factors behind probate delays
While each estate is unique, these are some of the most common issues that end up causing probate delays and conflicts:
- Problems with your will: A will that isn’t valid under New York state law is pretty much the same as having no will at all, and that will slow the probate process down considerably.
- Losing the original will: Even if your will was correctly completed, the original — not a copy — has to be presented to the probate court. If your heirs can’t find it, that’s definitely going to cause problems.
- No transfer-on-death designations: In New York, you can’t use a transfer-on-death deed for vehicles or real estate, but you can use them for stocks and bonds. Making sure these are in place will make it easier for your heirs to access those funds and keep them out of the entire probate process.
- Conflicts between your heirs: You know your children best. If they won’t sign off on the waivers needed to settle the estate because of personality conflicts, the probate process can drag on for years. It may be wise to think about other options, like a trust.
- An uninformed administrator: The executor of your state needs to understand their duties and know how to find out about all your assets and liabilities. If they’re woefully uninformed about your estate (or just plain bad at their job), that will complicate probate immensely.
The good news is that you can usually avoid all of these issues with a tailored approach to your estate plans. The sooner you get some experienced guidance, the easier it may become.