As a family deals with the death of a loved one, numerous issues arise, requiring immediate attention. The burden can become overwhelming, and it can be easy to put off some responsibilities.
However, probate is a necessary process for managing the estate. Failure to file on time can create complications for the family.
The results of neglecting to file probate
Probate resolves the distribution of the decedent’s estate and takes care of paying taxes and debts. California dictates that the estate representative must complete the probate process within a year of the death. Failure to do so brings penalties.
To prevent any misallocation, the court starts by freezing the assets of the abandoned estate. Beneficiaries will not be able to access any property from the estate at this time. Once probate passes the one-year mark, late fees start to accrue.
Without handling probate, the estate cannot close debts. Unpaid debts could become the responsibility of the beneficiaries, who might struggle because of lacking access to the funds from an inheritance from the estate.
If a person delays long enough, criminal prosecution is possible. This situation usually only occurs with intentional mismanagement.
Tips for avoiding filing late for probate
Various issues can get in the way of an executor filing for probate, though the person intends to do so. After the death, an executor can assign someone else to serve as an alternate. If the original representative loses competency or the ability to handle the process, the alternate can step in to complete the process. The court will not have to assign a conservator, which can lead to disputes.
Death brings numerous challenges. With cooperation and prompt action, a family and the estate executor can work to prevent probate from becoming unnecessarily challenging.