Stuck in the Probate Purgatory from Austin Estate Planning Attorney Liz Nielsen

Stuck in the Probate Purgatory by Austin estate planning lawyer

It’s no secret, people are not a fan of probate.  The most common reasons being the expense, time and confusion about the process. And while probate can be a hassle, one way to minimize those frustrations can be to have a well-crafted estate plan.  The cost of not doing so can be seen in the ongoing court proceedings surrounding the estate of the Artist Prince.  The most recent developments were covered in a recent article by the Austin American Statesman. Many were surprised to learn Prince died without a will when he passed away in the spring of 2016.  Since then, the probating of his estate has languished in probate purgatory and shows no signs of moving on. So what’s taking so long?

Death and Taxes – the ultimate pairing

It always comes down to taxes, doesn’t it?  One of the many things that must happen after you die is your estate must pay your final taxes.  Before any property can be given to your heirs and beneficiaries, you owe the tax man for the portion of the last year of your life.  Prince’s estate is no different, and the IRS believes it is owed more than was originally paid — about 50% more in fact.  However, as reported, the court appointed administrators of Prince’s estate aren’t quietly accepting the IRS’s assessment.  They have requested a trial by the tax court to challenge the IRS’s estimation.

At first glance, this may seem great for Prince’s heirs, since they’ll receive more of his estate than the tax man.  Yet, this isn’t really true.  Prince’s heirs have been waiting since 2016 for the probate to be completed, and a trial will only slow things down.  This slow down will ultimately cost them more in fees paid to attorneys. So while the fight continues over the tax bill, the probate goes on languishing in probate purgatory.

Is this an inevitability?

While the gridlock surrounding Prince’s estate may not exactly be the norm, the probate process can have delays.  The gathering of the estate, its valuation, and any disputes over debts can all work to slow down the process to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled, and everyone is treated fairly.  And sadly, even if Prince had drafted a will, this still might have happened in the probating of his estate.  But this logjam doesn’t have to be the case for everyone.

By working with an experienced estate planning attorney to draft a plan that provides and protects your loved ones, and by keeping that plan up to date, many of the headaches and delays of probate can be avoided by your loved ones.

So if you haven’t updated your estate plan in a while, or if you’ve never drafted one before, now may be the time to consider ensuring that your loved ones aren’t left stuck in probate after you are gone. Nielsen Law is happy to work with you to ensure that your plan is as complete as it can be to provide as smooth a probate as possible.

Give Us a Call

Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning to individuals and families in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area.  For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.