What Causes Estate Planning Delay in CA?

Causes of Estate Planning Delays and Solutions

A lot of people try to avoid probate for a number of reasons. One of these reasons can be the high expense of probate. It is also a public record, which means you will not have privacy for a process that may involve some intimate matters. Probate can also be time-consuming. The amount of time it takes to complete probate proceedings might also be affected by a number of other factors. So, what are the causes of estate planning delays and solutions to them? 

In California, the probate process is designed to be simple to give beneficiaries the relief they need while reducing the overall stress of the process. With good planning and execution, your heirs should then be able to receive their inheritance easily. Unfortunately, every rule has an exception, so it’s possible that your estate can get held up in probate.

If you want your heirs to receive their inheritance with little or no problems at all, let the Casiano Law Firm help you design and draft an estate plan for your peace of mind. Vincent Casiano is a San Diego attorney who’s well-versed in probate and trust contests and has handled numerous cases in both probate and civil court throughout the course of his career. 

If you are going through an estate dispute in San Diego, you can rely on Vincent Casiano to work with determination and care to protect your family’s peace of mind. If you want to start your estate planning process immediately, give him a call right now for a NO CHARGE PHONE CONSULT

What Causes Estate Planning Delay?

Many people are unaware that there are ways to avoid probate. They do not bother to write any wills or other estate plans, which means that their assets are left to the court to decide.

In certain extreme cases, the probate process can go on for years. Having an incompetent executor or dealing with complicated assets are only two of the many factors that cause state planning delays.

Estates with Multiple Beneficiaries

Estates that have more than 2 or 3 beneficiaries often take longer to complete via probate because notifying every single beneficiary takes time. It is also a legal requirement to keep them informed of what is going on throughout the administration.

Numerous documents also need each beneficiary’s signature, and there usually are 1 or 2 who need nudging as well as more than 1 or 2 reminders to submit their accomplished documents to the estate’s executor or attorney.

When Beneficiaries Are Spread Far Away

Even with modern technology, dealing with multiple beneficiaries spread across the United States is going to be more challenging. If a beneficiary is residing outside of the United States, the different time zones and costly overnight postal service will undoubtedly have an impact on estate administration.

Beneficiaries who live far away are reported as the leading cause of delays in probate processing.

Estates That Have Assets in Multiple States

When a deceased also owns property in another state, several probate processes may be needed.

A deceased, for example, may have resided in Nevada and owned real estate property there and in California, as well as in Oklahoma where they had mineral rights. This may necessitate the opening of ancillary probates in both California and also Oklahoma, on top of the primary action in Nevada.

It often takes more time to juggle additional proceedings.

Bad Representative

It is common practice to choose a family member who is the eldest or most trusted to serve as the estate representative. Unfortunately, age and trustworthiness do not guarantee that a person will be a competent representative. Someone who is disorganized often misplaces things and has poor communication skills may cause problems. The inability to fulfill the responsibilities of estate administration raises the likelihood of needless delays happening and causes the whole probate process to take far longer than necessary.

Incomplete Wills

When it comes to estate planning, one of the first things that come to mind is writing a will. A will, on the other hand, is not necessarily a foolproof strategy to avoid the probate process. Writing a will that fails to mention all assets, contradicts beneficiary designations made in insurance policies, and generally fails to effectively handle the inheritance causes problems. A badly executed will often be more harmful than no will at all.

Estates Required to File Tax Returns

An estate that needs to submit the federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706), will almost certainly take a longer time to administer compared to an estate that does not. Typically, the IRS will not begin processing an estate’s Form 706 until three to four months after the filing of the return.

An estate that needs to file Form 706 cannot close unless the IRS gives its formal, written approval.

Even if an estate is not needed to submit Form 706 at the federal level, it may be required to file a state-level estate tax or inheritance tax return. This may also cause the probate process to be delayed.

Family Conflicts

Unfortunately, family feuds are one of the major reasons estates become stuck in probate for months or years. If some family members dislike or distrust one other, they would question every move made by the other side. Refusing to consent to certain decisions, avoiding communicating with the administrator, and requiring the probate court to make all decisions may cause probate to extend for years. 

If you’re dealing with estate litigation, you’ll need someone with significant experience. Call Casiano Law Firm immediately for a NO CHARGE PHONE CONSULT with experienced estate contests attorney Vincent Casiano.

When Estates Have Unusual Assets

For estates with difficult-to-value properties, probate will take more time. Rare collectibles,  oil, mineral rights, racehorses, and patents are some examples.

A difficult-to-value asset might play into the second reason why a probate is taking so long—an estate tax return must be filed by the estate. The administrator or executor of the estate and the Internal Revenue Service have been observed to have vastly different views on the real value of unusual assets for estate tax purposes.

A very illiquid asset may force the estate to stay open up to the time that the asset can be sold. Otherwise, one or more of the estate’s creditors or beneficiaries may be obliged to take over ownership of that undesired asset.

When Too Many Wills Exist

It’s not unheard of for a person who has died to leave a last will and testament without making it clear in the document that it is replacing and revoking any will made before that time. If an heir or beneficiary emerges brandishing some other will with better terms, it may not be immediately clear which will take precedence.

This will most likely result in a will contest so that the court can determine who is right. The estate settlement might be delayed for a year or more.

How Do You Minimize The Likelihood Of Your Estate Plan Being Contested?

When an estate is required to go through the probate process, everyone involved wants it to be concluded as soon as possible. Contact Casiano Law Firm for help to ensure that your probate case proceeds as smoothly and quickly as possible.

While no two probate cases are identical, the following are some basic tips for preventing needless delays:

Don’t Do It Yourself

The best way to show why a DIY Plan’s simplicity is not what one desire in an estate plan is to compare the information offered to DIY Plan services to those of an estate planning attorney during the first consultation. DIY Plan services vary from asking no questions (e.g., the fillable statutory will and power of attorney at UPS) to allowing clients to answer relatively detailed questions that may affect the documents they get. 

An attorney builds client trust at an initial estate planning meeting. When a client becomes very sick or disabled, it is critical to have an open and honest dialogue about difficult topics like inter-family relationships, finances, special needs planning, and wishes. An attorney’s assessment of a client’s estate plan also depends on how their assets are allocated across real estate, retirement funds, and cash.

Online estate plan providers’ “one size fits all” approach won’t work for everyone. To ensure that you have a personalized estate plan, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Don’t Procrastinate

If you die without a Will or other estate plan, your state determines who is entitled to your assets based on state rules of intestacy (not having a will).

Furthermore, most individuals give their family and loved ones substantial amounts of heartache, grief, and financial loss by failing to have an estate plan in place since the courts decide who gets what.

Many attorneys observe that this usually leads to family and friend feuds and costs people a lot of money in legal expenses, administrative charges, and other expenses that might have been avoided if proper estate planning had been done.

Avoid Undue Infuence

Meet with an attorney BY YOURSELF. Do not bring along a favorite child or anyone that can be suspected in the future of exercising undue influence over you.

Evidence of Mental Capacity

The testator’s mental capacity is a critical requirement for a valid Will. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that the testator’s competency at the time of signing is properly documented. This is best accomplished with the involvement of witnesses, a notary public, and a doctor.

Certificate of Independent Review

A Standard Document that attests to the fact that independent counsel reviewed an estate planning instrument and advised the client on its implications. When a client makes an outright or testamentary gift to or designates as sole trustee certain disqualified persons, a statutory presumption of fraud or undue influence applies unless this Standard Document is used.

Restate Your Plan Regularly

Restate your estate plan every year or every other year. Let’s say for 10 years, you restate your plan five times, and you say the same thing each time (or something very similar each time). The person who wants to contest your plan has to contest each and every one of those restated plans. They have to prove that when you signed these plans, you lacked capacity or were undue influenced. This would be a very expensive process for them.

No Contest Clauses

Years ago, the California legislature changed the law regarding no-contest clauses. Changes to the legislation make no-contest clause enforcement even harder to enforce. Call Casiano Law Firm and talk to Vincent Casiano about how this new legislation impacts your estate plan.

San Diego Trust and Probate Litigation Attorney

San Diego probate and trust litigation attorney Vincent Casiano is here to help you with any issues you may be having with will or trust disputes, fiduciaries, or complicated estate planning. He can also discuss the causes of estate planning delays and solutions in depth. Now is the time to get professional help from an experienced lawyer. Schedule a no-charge phone consult with Vincent Casiano now!


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