If you have elected yourself or were chosen to act as a personal representative, contacting a seasoned lawyer could be invaluable. An attorney could explain what complications a Lombard personal representative should expect and how to overcome any obstacles.
Personal representatives should expect the possibility that beneficiaries may have their own idea about the value and status of the estate. This is particularly true when it comes to personal property and household furnishings. Someone might think that the house they grew up in and all the knick-knacks in it have great value. However, he or she may be surprised to learn that most of those items have no value whatsoever. In those cases, it may be necessary to obtain a professional appraisal of all the personal property in a residence or a storage unit.
Additionally, family members and beneficiaries may be surprised about their share of the estate. Whether it is due to the terms of a will or otherwise, beneficiaries may be upset with their inheritance. They might have misconceptions about what the decedent had. They may be confused, or they may just have a lack of knowledge and think that a decedent had a bigger estate than he or she actually did. Personal representatives may need to deal with a lot of elements of disappointment and surprise coming from family members or beneficiaries, particularly in cases where a child has been disinherited.
Factors that could make the probate process accelerate or slow down include the size of the estate and if the estate is subject to estate taxes, which requires the filing of a federal estate tax return. Beneficiaries may have to wait for the IRS to issue a closing letter or do an audit.
The biggest factor is whether or not there is any litigation taking place within the estate. Probate estates could be the source of a few different types of litigation, such as a will contest. They could litigate on claims. There could be allegations that the personal representatives breached their fiduciary duty. There could be proceedings to recover money on behalf of the estate.
If there is litigation, it extends the administration process from six months to a year. If it does not settle, it goes to trial and could take three years or so.
Another factor could be business interests, particularly in a small business. If a business interest negotiated some sort of a buyout, there could be issues with the corporate structure or the corporate succession plan. The estate may become involved in a fight with any remaining shareholders or other business owners as to the value of shares.
Another complicating factor is poor planning, particularly in cases with a blended family where there was poor communication between family members. It could lead to a lot of disputes as far as who gets what. Disputes always bring delay and greatly increase the amount of time that it takes for an estate to be closed.
Factors that could accelerate the probate process are good relationships among the family members and the size of the estate. A smaller estate with no disputes could streamline and ease the process. A clear estate plan, whether it is a will or a trust, could accelerate the probate process and help in marshaling the assets. If it is clear where things are located, it speeds the whole process up.
Some of the frustrations personal representatives should be prepared for could be personal. It could be related to dealing with family members. Even on the quick side, probate could take six months to close, and usually family members, depending on their personal circumstances, are eager to receive their inheritance. They should be ready for the family members to pester them as far as what is happening with an estate, even though there may be nothing the representative can do.
Another frustration pertains to real estate. The personal representative may have difficulty selling it, or it may require a lot of work before it can be marketed.
One of the big frustrations may be that they feel their hands are tied in various circumstances because of the probate process, and there may be certain decisions that they want to make without consulting their attorney. This can be a mistake, because if they do something that an interested person takes issues with later in a probate process, it may lead to some sort of a dispute.
If you feel unprepared to act as a personal representative for another, contacting an experienced attorney who could explain the complications a Lombard personal representative should expect could help you feel more secure.