What if a sibling is procrastinating in their role as executor?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2024 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Many people who are widowed or divorced name an adult child to be the executor of their estate. While some name all of their children, parents often think this will cause conflict. Of course, choosing one child over the others can also cause conflict and resentment if a parent doesn’t explain their decision-making process.

Administering a parent’s estate can be challenging in a multitude of ways – not the least of which is finding a way to process your grief (or put it on hold) while you handle your responsibilities. This can cause some people to put off even beginning to deal with the estate. They may further procrastinate as they move through the process. Some people do this because they don’t know where to begin or they’re not equipped for the job. Sometimes there’s an emotional component that prevents them from moving forward – and finishing it.

If that person is one of your siblings or another close relative, this can be frustrating – especially if your inheritance is being held up. How do you know what the appropriate timeline is?

What is involved in administering a New York estate?

New York doesn’t have a deadline for estates to be “closed” or settled. Every estate is different. If most of the assets have to go through probate, it can take the better part of a year, if not longer. If your loved one did some careful estate planning and placed most assets in a living will and/or took other steps to let property and accounts transfer seamlessly, it can go considerably faster.

Even if you’re not the executor, it helps to know what the required steps are so you know where the executor is in the process. For example, the first step is filing the will (assuming there is one) with the local Surrogate’s Court.

The executor then needs to do things like inventory all the assets, notify creditors (who have seven months to make claims), pay debts, file the deceased’s final income tax returns and more. Any dispute among beneficiaries or any other interested parties can cause the biggest delays.

If you believe the executor isn’t moving through the process in a reasonable amount of time, the best thing to do is talk to them and find out how you can help. If that doesn’t work, you can consider seeking their removal. That’s a big step – especially when it’s a family member. It’s smart to get legal guidance before you take it.