A recent example of headaches and costs if you delay probate: Lou’s mom died owning a co-op apartment in New York. Since there was no mortgage, Lou and his sisters didn’t think there was any rush to deal with it. More than a year passed, and the co-op wanted clarity on who the legal owner is. Lou and his sisters each took turns saying they’d handle it, then dropped the ball. Finally, the co-op got tired of waiting and took action.
Co-op Foreclosures in NYC
The co-op began a foreclosure proceeding. Condo and co-op foreclosures aren’t just for missed mortgage payments. Foreclosures are also for missed maintenance payments and to clear the title. In this case, the co-op board doesn’t necessarily want the money. They want control so that they can put the apartment on the market and sell as they see fit.
The proceeds from the sale would ultimately go to Lou and his siblings, but they would have no control over the process. And, the co-op’s legal fees will get paid from the sale proceeds.
Someone Else Will Probate
The co-op doesn’t want to be the administrator of someone’s estate. So, the co-op asked the court to name the Public Administrator (PA) to be the executor for Lou’s mom’s estate.
As we’ve discussed before, you don’t want the PA in charge of your estate. The PA may be competent, but they are probably not the best fit for your needs in estate administration.
Now that the co-op asked the court to appoint the PA, Lou can’t simply ask the court to become the executor instead. Now Lou and his sisters must fight off the PA (and the PA’s legal fees) if they want to keep control of their mom’s estate.
How Long Do You Have To File Probate After Death
There is no official rule or deadline for how long you have to file after death. Maybe after three months you are still paralyzed by your loved one’s death that you weren’t ready to move forward. Maybe by six months you are overwhelmed in trying to find a lawyer. But the court will start losing sympathy for you after about a year. The court understands that you need time to grieve, but getting started sooner is better.
Of course, Lou’s example is not the only way delaying probate can cause problems. Start talking to an attorney as soon as possible to understand the process. If you reach out to an attorney, they will not sit on your case for a year. They and their team will start working on the process while you are grieving.