The short answer is: “It depends.” This is the first question we are asked whenever we are dealing with a probate administration matter, and it is usually the most difficult to answer because there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration:
1. Does the estate have to pay taxes?
If the estate is required to pay Federal estate taxes, the estate cannot be closed by the court until the estate tax is paid and the IRS issues a closing letter confirming there is no further tax liability. It can take about 6-8 months after filing the tax return to receive this closing letter.
2. What kind of assets are in the estate?
Certain assets are fairly easy to administer, like a bank account or a property, but when you start dealing with brokerage accounts, stocks, bonds, or businesses, it can become complex as each type of asset has its own special rules to follow for a proper succession. There are also special assets, such as vehicles, jewelry, fine art or collectibles, that require appraisals or unique valuations.
3. How many beneficiaries are there?
From a logistical standpoint, the more parties that are involved, the more work is involved in sending documents to and from. Consider the volume of documents that would need to be circulated in an estate with 7 to 10 beneficiaries, waiting for signatures, etc. as opposed to an estate with 2 or 3 beneficiaries.
4. Do the beneficiaries get along?
It is difficult for many people to see eye to eye on almost everything, which is especially true when dealing with probate matters. Some beneficiaries in a probate administration matter will hire their own attorneys to represent their interests and monitor the probate process. Of course, these attorneys may not see eye to eye with the Personal Representative, which can lead to disagreements and delays in the administration of the estate.
5. How quickly will the court get to the case?
It is no secret that today’s court system is overburdened, understaffed, and underfunded. Many times, budget cuts, court closures, and overall backlog will affect how quickly the court can turn around court orders. Many times, missing documentation or improper paperwork will contribute to court delays since those errors have to be corrected before moving forward.
6. Does the estate have any creditors?
Generally, Florida law requires that an estate publish a notice to creditors once an estate is opened., and creditors are allowed a mandatory three-month window to bring claims against the estate before they are barred. Known creditors of the estate can file claims even after the three-month period. Resolving any creditor claims is a prerequisite to closing an estate, which means that if the estate has several creditors, it can take a while to sort out, verify that the claims are accurate, and arrange for payment.
Probate can be a long and complicated process. The experienced attorneys at EPGD Trusts & Estates can help make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us at (786) 837-6787 for a consultation and learn how we can assist you. We handle probate administration matters throughout the State of Florida.
*Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*