If the executor of an estate is taking too long (i.e., 20 months and counting since date of death) to settle things (distribute assets, file tax return, etc.), is there anything that a beneficiary of the estate can do to force a settlement sooner ? To date, all non-probate assets have been distributed, all real property has been liquidated but the executor has not distributed the remaining assets nor filed the final papers
Is a Federal Estate Tax Return being filed? If so, it takes time for the IRS to review and send a certificate. Estates cannot be closed without the certificate. And, if the estate is in NY, the state has estate taxes and tax returns. You may request partial distributions and ask questions about the estate tax issues that may be holding up a final distribution.
You can hire your own attorney to try to push things along, but that itself also takes time. You may simply want to hire an attorney to make sure you are getting the right information and that will perhaps prod them to move it along if that is possible. There could be a number of reasons for the delay, or you could be right and the person is dragging their feet for no reason.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature.
You have the right to ask the Executor for a partial distribution. It is not unusual for estates to be open for 20 months, so I don't necessarily know that the Executor is delaying things. Information is power, so ask the Executor for an estimate timeline.
New York State fiduciaries (executors or administrators) can wait seven months from the date of their appointment (not the date of death) to distribute assets to beneficiaries. Seven months is the time in which creditors can present claims to the estate. If you believe there is an inordinate delay, a beneficiary has the right after seven months to petition the court to compel the fiduciary to file their accounting. Usually this is a last resort as a judicial accounting is expensive and the estate bears the cost. An informal accounting is more common. Seek counsel from an attorney experienced in these matters.
The answer to this question should not be construed as legal advice and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. You should consult a lawyer before taking any action regarding your matter.
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