When people pass away, their earthly possessions (bank accounts, cars, homes, household items, clothing, insurance policies, etc.) must go somewhere. Otherwise, there would be abandoned property everywhere! In addition, their outstanding debts must be paid. All of the duties surrounding the distribution of a deceased person’s assets (as well as financial restitution) is legally referred to as settling the estate.
If the deceased person has a will or trust, an executor or trustee will be named in the documents to handle the many responsibilities that surround estate settlement. The executor/trustee should be extremely trustworthy and capable of spending the proper amount of time and energy for these duties.
This leads us to the question, “How long does it take to settle an estate?” Unfortunately, there is simply no single answer to this question. While the typical estate settlement process in Denver will take 6 months to one year, there are other situations that could extend the time frame of an estate settlement.
Situations That May Cause Estate Settlement to Stall
- The will cannot be located in a timely manner
- The executor delays filing the will and opening an estate with the probate court
- The executor has issues locating the assets of the estate
- The executor is unsure how to alert businesses of the death (Social Security Administration, the deceased’s bank, phone and utility companies, credit card companies, newspapers, magazines, etc.)
- The executor uses funds inappropriately or for personal gain and the beneficiaries must petition the courts for a replacement
- Beneficiaries contest the will
- People left out of the will challenge how it was written
- Assets are distributed before creditors are paid (taxes, mortgage payments, electricity bills, credit card bills, alimony, medical bills, etc.) leading to lawsuits against the estate or even against the executor
You may notice that many of the situations above are due simply because the executor may not have the knowledge or time to get the job done right. Most people choose family members or close friends to serve in this role because they feel comfortable leaving these responsibilities to a loved one. However, it may be more advantageous to hire an estate lawyer to help you understand your duties.
If you find yourself tied up in an estate that is taking years to settle, you can resign as the executor at any time. If an alternate executor is not specifically named in the will, the court will appoint a replacement. It is also important to know that if you are named an executor but do not want to take on these responsibilities, you can opt to decline the role.
In most cases, the quicker you get the probate process rolling, the quicker the estate can be settled. If you run into roadblocks, the Denver estate settlement lawyers at Brown & Crona, LLC are ready to step in and help. They know the methods to make estate settlement quicker and more efficient.
To get expert legal help with faster estate settlement in Colorado, contact us today: call (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online.