While the majority of executors handle probate properly and timely, there are times where an executor is taking too long. When this happens, there are steps that a beneficiary can take to hurry them along and protect their interests in an estate. Estate beneficiaries are entitled to a full accounting of the estate’s assets and to the timely distribution of the estate’s assets. Through compelling an executor to release gifts given by the estate, with the help of a New York estate attorney, those who benefit from an estate can protect their rights.
Under most circumstances, beneficiaries of an estate are not immediately paid their inheritance because the executor’s duty is to pay creditors first. According to New York law, once letters testamentary are issued to the executor, creditors have seven months to claim what is owed by the estate. This is important to remember by potential beneficiaries because that time limitation creates an idea of how long it will take to get your inheritance.
While seven months may be the time that beneficiaries are kept waiting on their inheritance, there is no guarantee that a beneficiary will get any of their gift at that point if it ends up that the majority of the estate was used to pay bills and taxes. It must be kept in mind that, if there is some sort of dispute over the estate, it could result in a longer period of time going by before a beneficiary is able to collect his or her inheritance because the claim against the estate may potentially add years to Surrogate’s Court proceedings.
Once seven months have passed, or any dispute over the estate has been dealt with, and the executor is not releasing money or property left by the estate, there are legal options for those beneficiaries.
When we feel that an executor is taking too long, We first file a petition or an accounting of an estate, to get an idea of what the executor is claiming is left for distribution. If there are disagreements over what is in the estate, we resolve those disagreements before moving on to the distribution stage.
Once the accounting is resolved, the beneficiaries of an estate can file a petition to compel a distribution, to ask the court to force the executor to release the inheritance that they are either left by the Will or are entitled to under intestacy rules. This law is meant to protect the potential beneficiaries of the estate from an executor who either is lax in handling their duties or is purposefully refusing to turn over an inheritance that a beneficiary would otherwise be entitled to. The law lets those beneficiaries ask the court through a New York estate attorney to force the executor to turn over property that is a beneficiary is entitled to.
This is not the same as another kind of petition that compels the executor of the estate to pay out inheritances in advance of the seven months that creditors have to file a claim against an estate. That part of the law is meant to force the executor to pay out to heirs who are in need of the estate assets for family support or education. The motion to compel for a regular inheritance also does not include a motion to compel the executor to release non-probate assets such as jointly held bank accounts or property.
If you would like to know more about your options to expedite the probate process when an executor is taking too long, Call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774, New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate lawyer, and make an appointment to discuss.