In New York, probate is the process that determines the validity of a will. Many people don’t know they can avoid leaving the fate of their assets to the court. Probate may continue for many months because of various factors.

Several beneficiaries

Probates that involve more than three beneficiaries commonly take longer. That’s because each beneficiary has to be located and contacted. Some documents need signing by every beneficiary, and this could take coaxing. There will likely be one or two who take their time returning papers.

Location of beneficiaries

Geography is often the top cause of probate delays. Beneficiaries who live out of the area cost the estate postage when documents need to be signed and returned. Beneficiaries spread across the country or live in another part of the world can compound the issue.

Odd assets or out-of-state assets

Estates with odd assets, such as racehorses or mineral rights, usually take longer to go through probate. The estate must find the value of the assets so taxes can be filed, and this could be tricky. When an asset cannot be easily converted to a cash value, a creditor or beneficiary may have to take ownership of it. Otherwise, the probate could stay open until it sells.

Sometimes, assets located in other states need to be tracked. This means probate has to be opened in the state of the asset. Of course, this causes additional delays.

Tax returns

If an estate surpasses a certain value threshold, a 706 form must be filed. The IRS usually waits three to four months after the taxes are filed to process the form. Probates that require a tax filing must remain open until there’s a written notice from the IRS.

Probates often cause disagreements and arguments among heirs. Even with everyone getting along, estate laws are complex. An estate planning lawyer with knowledge of state laws can assist the executor and help resolve issues.