A will must go through probate before the distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries. The court-controlled process is supposed to validate the will and ensure all claims to the estate are settled before the heirs receive their portions. Ideally, it should be a smooth process, but this is not always the case.
Probate can hit a snag from different quarters, leading to considerable delays in concluding the process. It can be a major inconvenience for the beneficiaries who have to wait until the end to take over their share of the estate.
Probate is not always a smooth process
Many things can go wrong during probate. For starters, the executor may neglect or breach their duties as the person charged with administering the estate during probate. They may steal or misappropriate estate assets or even fail to pay creditors and taxes due.
There could also be a contest to the will by an interested party. Any contest to a will must be heard and determined before things can proceed. It can long for a contest suit to conclude. If the will contest is successful, the probate court will revoke the will, and everything will take a different approach.
Other possibilities, such as differences in the valuation of the estate or missing assets, can also affect probate proceedings.
Understand how probate works
As a beneficiary of a will, it is worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the probate process and what you should expect. It will help you prepare for and deal with such challenges and ensure you protect your interests.
Equally, it is crucial to be aware of your options if you are making your estate plans and intend to avoid the uncertainties of probate. There are alternative estate planning tools you can use to achieve that.