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What to Do If an Executor Refuses to Act

what to do if an executor refuses to act

While the majority of executors and administrators handle probate timely and adequately, there are times where an executor refuses to act. There are steps that you can take to hurry the executor along and protect your interest in an estate. You 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 provide a full accounting and fulfill the bequests in the will, a New York estate attorney can help you protect your rights.

The Seven-Months Waiting Period

Just because you are waiting doesn’t mean that the executor is not acting – they may be doing other things.

Under most circumstances, you don’t receive your inheritance right away. There is a waiting period.  According to New York law, creditors have seven months to claim what is owed by the estate. This time limitation creates an idea of how long it will take to get your inheritance. It may be that the executor is not refusing to act, he is simply waiting out the required period.

Litigation Delays

If there is litigation involved, then there could be a more extended period going by before you can collect your inheritance. Different types of litigation can affect an estate.

  • A medical malpractice claim
  • A business dispute
  • Real estate eviction
  • The validity of the decedent’s will
  • The qualification of the executor

Litigation can add years to an estate proceeding and may give an impression that the executor is refusing to act.

Delays in Marshaling Assets

Before the executor can distribute assets, the executor has to find the assets first. If the decedent did not leave a detailed list of the assets in the estate, then the executor will have to perform multiple searches.

  • Look through the decedent’s documents
  • Find decedent’s safe deposit boxes
  • Search for real estate
  • Search for other assets

As long as the executor is performing their duties, they are not refusing to act, even if they are not yet ready to distribute the assets.

If the Executor Refuses to Act

Once seven months have passed, and the executor is still not releasing money or property left by the estate, then the executor may be refusing to act.

We would 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, we file a petition to compel a distribution, to ask the court to force the executor to stop refusing to act and to release the inheritance. This law is meant to protect you from an executor who either is lax in handling their duties or is purposefully refusing to distribute the inheritance. The law lets you ask the court through a New York estate attorney to force the executor to turn over property that you are entitled to.

This is not the same as another kind of petition that compels the executor 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 need 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 when the executor is refusing to act, you can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233. He is a New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate lawyer. You are welcome to make an appointment to discuss your situation.

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New York City Estate Lawyer Albert Goodwin, Esq.
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by Michele Hines on New York City Estate Lawyer Albert Goodwin, Esq.

Albert Goodwin is a great New York estate lawyer, helped me every step of the way.