My mother passed away in June. All debts have been paid off and the rest was supposed to be divided equally between us. All siblings are over the age of 32. My aunt is the executor and she decided to hold onto mine until a later date. Is this legal?
An executor is a fiduciary for the estate and therefore must be diligent and loyal in carrying out the terms of the will. That means, among other things, that distributions should be made equally. If, for example, a partial distribution is made, all persons who inherit under the will must then be paid in proportion to their interests. While an executor is permitted discretion in many matters, withholding a distribution from one beneficiary but not others would run afoul of her duties.
You should consult with an attorney at your earliest convenience. There are a number of details that you have not supplied in your posting that will go a long way toward determining exactly how to proceed.
Good luck to you.
Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.
I agree with Mr. Haber - the only caveat being that if the will instructs the executor to hold your distribution, either in trust or until she reaches a specific age, she can/must do so. I would need to see the will.
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