How long can an estate executor take to pay a beneficiary? 20 Answers as of May 19, 2014

My husband's mother passed away in the fall of 2009. His brother in law (his sister's husband) still hasn't closed out the estate or given an accounting of any sort. There is a condominium that the executor has chosen to rent rather than sell. My husband feels it's time to sell the place and distribute the funds. Again, he has been shown no paperwork on any of this. The brother-in-law bristles when asked about it.

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Edward L. Armstrong, P.C. | Edward L. Armstrong
My suggestion would be to check with the Probate Division of the Circuit Court for the County in Missouri that your husband's mother was living in at the time of her death. When the estate was opened in that court any records found or generated become public. You can certainly go into the clerk's office and look at the estate file to see exactly what's been done. Was there a will? Were there assets actually subject to probate? It could be that the assets were in trust and were not part of a probate estate - in this case you need to check with the trustee of that trust. It's also possible that at some point your husband's mother signed a beneficiary deed which would pass title to the condo automatically to the beneficiary at the time of her death. For this, you can check the Recorder of Deeds office for the county where the condominium is located.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 5/19/2014
Christine Sabio Socrates Attorney at Law | Christine Socrates
Action can be taken in probate court to find out what is going on with the estate and why nothing has been transferred or paid from it. If a probate estate is still open, yearly accounting's must be filed. If he hasn't, he can be removed a executor by the court. It seems like an unusually long time for an estate to be open if there is only a property remaining.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 5/14/2014
Law Offices of Robert Beatson II | Robert Beatson II
The Executor has a certain period of time under applicable law to close out an estate. A beneficiary of a Estate has the right under MD law to petition for removal of the current Executor and to question/correct the administration of the Estate and associated accounting and/or tax reports. Available removal grounds may be: breach of trust, Executor is unfit or unwilling to administer the estate correctly/effectively, Executor persistently fails to administer the estate correctly/effectively, etc. An action may also exist under MD law for Executor liability concerning the management of the Estate over time. Further information needs to be developed in connection with the filing of such legal actions. There are a number of fact-specific issues under MD law that need to be carefully worked through concerning the Estate Instrument and the administration of the Estate. An experienced trusts and estates attorney should be able to handle this under MD law.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 5/2/2014
Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
The probate court requires accounting's every six months and generally likes to see simple estates wrapped up inside of a year. 4 1/2 years on a retired woman with a condo, that's ridiculous, I'm surprised the probate judge hasn't kicked him out and replaced him with an attorney. ?Go to the probate court in the county where your mother resided, pull the file (it's a public record, except on days when there is a hearing - the judge gets the files on hearing days). Better yet, have an attorney go with him because he or she will know what to look for. There have been several events that would require you husband's signature or at least your husband would have received notice of a hearing. ?I'm guessing that the brother in law forged those. ?If that's true, hire a lawyer - you don't want to get involved with your brother in law in a possible criminal situation, this is how "Local Man Shot" winds up in the headlines.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/30/2014
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
In Maryland, the period of time a personal representative has to ultimately distribute to a legatee/heir can be a long time depending on the situation. However, interested persons (like legatees and heirs) should be receiving copies of estate accounting's regularly, because an account is due within nine months after the personal representative is appointed, and every six months after each account is approved.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 4/29/2014
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Sounds like your husband should consult with an attorney who can review the court file to advise him on the same.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    The Center for Elder Law
    The Center for Elder Law | Don Rosenberg
    The law has a statute about overdue distributions. You can require him to file and accounting and distribute the assets. You can file a petition for supervision of the estate or even remove him as PR as he is not fulfilling his fiduciary duties. If he has not completed his responsibilities since 2009, he clearly needs to be removed as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    Your husband needs a conference with a probate lawyer. It sounds as if you need to file a petition to have him removed, and for an accounting.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    Has probate been filed or is the mother's estate in a trust? The answer to your question depends on the answer to my question. Generally, however, it has been too much time without an accounting. If the brother-in-law refuses to provide an accounting, the heirs to the estate can force him to produce one or remove his as executor/trustee of the estate. All of this is done by filing papers with the local probate court and holding hearings. You will need the assistance of an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Obtain the services of a probate litigation lawyer to bring an action for an accounting.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
    Hire a lawyer and file a petition.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    File a petition to compel the closure of the estate with the court. Also, request that the executor file a preliminary accounting, if the estate is not in a condition to be closed. Contact a probate attorney to discuss your husband's options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    Given the fact that the property has not been sold, the estate administration could continue on, indefinitely. Unfortunately, the brother is not doing what he is supposed to, in terms of an annual accounting. If the house is the only asset in the estate, it is somewhat less critical, because you can get online figures on the value of the property. You would need to know how much he is getting for rent, but if he is paying all taxes, insurance and utilities from the estate, then the rent may just be covering these items. You can force resolution of these issues, to a certain extent, but not without going to the court to complain. My guess is there will be more than bristling, if that happens.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Ben T. Liu Law Office
    Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
    Beneficiaries are entitled to annual accounting and information about the estate. Have you husband see an attorney if the executor is still refusing to give the information.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    It has been way to long to have received nothing - hopefully at least he has received distributions. I strongly encourage your husband to make a demand for an accounting and voice his opinion with regard to the sale of the condo. If he gets nowhere I suggest he get an attorney. Sitting on his rights will not benefit him in the long run.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    Your husband needs to consult with his own probate attorney. The will should have been filed, so a copy should be available. The probate attorney will need to look at the will. If the executor is not fulfilling his duties properly, that might be a basis for asking the court to change executors. There may be a basis for forcing a sale of the property, but if the executor was waiting for prices to increase, that may have been a legitimate decision.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    Many states allow a year to complete and close an estate, with extensions only for good cause. The executor only has the authority granted him by the deceased's will or by state intestacy law. He can not arbitrarily choose not to close the estate. It's time to for your husband and his sister and any other immediate heirs to sit down and set a deadline for the closing. If the other siblings don't agree or the executor refuses to close the estate, your husband will need to petition the probate court to enforce the closing.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    There is no way that the personal representative hasn't presented any paperwork. Your husband would have gotten a written notice of the opening of probate, and then annual accounts. The court file would have an inventory and a proof of compliance regarding claims against the estate. My guess? There is no personal representative brother-in-law has never petitioned the court to be named personal representative. Oh yes, it requires a petition to the court. He's renting the condo because he can't sell it only the personal representative could do that. Go to your courthouse (the county where the condo is located) and ask to see the probate file for this estate. Do this soon, before you find out that all the other assets of father-in-law's estate have been spent by brother-in-law on himself.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    I would suggest that you engage an attorney to determine what precisely the status is and your rights. Clearly, your husband and his brother-in-law are not in agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/29/2014
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    The estate can be converted to a supervised administration which would require court action to approve decisions like renting estate property. The executor is required to produce an annual accounting. Therefore, you can require the executor to produce an accounting. Estates are not supposed to be open indefinitely. The Court will be interested in moving the estate toward closure and distribution. You may be forced to get the Court involved in pushing the executor toward closing the estate. If the executor fails to act in the best interests of the estate then the executor may be removed.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/29/2014
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