Probate is undoubtedly a difficult process to navigate, especially for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Between the waiting and the arguing over what should happen to a person's property, family and friends often feel angry, frustrated and powerless.
Unfortunately, these emotions can be difficult to overcome if the probate process drags on over the course of several months or years because it makes it difficult to get any sense of closure. For instance, loved ones of late musician Prince have been struggling for more than two years with the probate process, and it looks like they still have a ways to go.
What's dragging out probate
As readers may well know, Prince passed away without a will and with considerable assets. He also was not married and did not have children. This has made virtually every step of probate more complicated than it perhaps needs to be.
As is often the case when a person dies without a will, there isn't just one issue delaying the process. Because there was no one named by Prince as an executor, the courts had to assign that role. There were challenges over who was eligible to collect property. There are also difficulties with valuing his massive estate and determining who gets what.
How extended probate impacts loved ones
A lengthy probate process can take a dramatic toll on loved ones. It can put them in limbo, and increase opportunities for fights to erupt between family members as they struggle for a sense of closure. Properties that may be tied up in probate can fall into disrepair and lose value. It can also be very costly. In Prince's case, for instance, executor and lawyers' fees have already exceeded $8 million.
Considering how painful this scenario can be for loved ones, it makes sense to have a valid will in place. Doing so not only protects your wishes and your property, it also provides critical direction and clarity during the difficult probate process, and this can be of considerable comfort to loved ones as they deal with a devastating loss.