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Why is probate taking so long?

The days and weeks following the death of a loved one can be emotional. Family members are often busy preparing, supporting each other and dealing with the practical matters, such as funeral plans. Soon enough, however, they must deal with the Massachusetts estate of their loved one, and that means beginning the probate process.

It is common for family members to want to move forward with their lives, but probate often keeps them in a holding pattern. The simple purpose of probate is to resolve any unfinished business, such as taxes and unpaid bills, so the rest of the estate can be divided among the heirs. However, probate can be frustrating, especially if heirs are uncertain what is going on and why it is taking so long.

If the deceased named someone to represent the estate through probate, this may save some time because the court will not have to make that decision. Next there are the matters of contacting anyone who may be an heir to the estate and having the assets valuated. The personal representative must pay any of the deceased’s creditors and file the final tax returns before heirs can claim any portion of the assets.

Of course, there may be many factors throughout this process that slow things down or even bring them to a temporary halt. Heirs may contest the validity of the will, or the estate administrator may feel overwhelmed by his or her duties. Many families find that the help of an experienced Massachusetts attorney is invaluable during these times. Reaching out for legal advice may clear up lingering questions and even provide guidance for the complex steps of the probate process.

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