An executor has a duty to the estate to complete the probate as quickly as possible. While sometimes it takes a few months, estates can take up to three years to complete.
An executor is a party who oversees administering an estate after the individual dies. In New York, they can invest whatever amount of time necessary to settle the estate entirely. However, the law holds exceptions. If an executor assumes his or her role but then fails to execute any of their responsibilities toward the estate, the court or a beneficiary can petition his or her removal.
Unfortunately, there is no set time for how long the executor has, because every estate is different and unique circumstances might delay the process for the executor. Typically, an executor should complete the probate process in one-year without complications and about three years when there are complications.
The Processes of Probate in Plainview, NY
To understand how long your case might take, you must understand the processes that go into probate. These are the steps the executor must go through to complete probate – and the steps you must wait through, too.
The Appointment of the Executor
After a loved one passes away, the courts must first validate the will and decide that it is authentic. During that validation, they will appoint the executor named in the will. You can expect this process to take up to a month. The executor initiates the process by submitting the will for probate. So if it takes longer, the court may penalize them for filing too late and causing financial harm to creditors and beneficiaries.
Delays in Appointing the Executor
It can take even longer to appoint an executor, depending on situations that might arise. Some issues that could delay the process include:
- Problems with collecting documents. Sometimes loved ones are not cooperative when it comes to signing and having documents notarized. When an executor must wait on the family, the process can become much lengthier than necessary.
- Court delays can occur. Courts take time processing documents too, which can be anywhere from four to eight weeks, depending on the status of their docket.
- Issues with third-party hearings. Sometimes the court must appoint a third party to investigate and create a special report. This will involve two court hearings instead of one.
The Payment of Creditors
Appointing the executor is merely one step of many. Now that the executor is in place, the executor must notify all creditors named in the deceased’s will. From there, creditors are given seven months to make any claims against the estate for funds owed.
Executors are personally liable for all debts owed by the estate if he or she distributes assets from the estate before creditors are notified or have time to file their claim. Therefore, you could not expect the executor to complete this process sooner than the required seven month timeframe.
Filing Estate Tax Returns
Your executor must file all federal estate tax returns, which tend to consume the most time. A more considerable estate may fall under federal taxes for their value, and the deadline is nine months post-death. Then, after filing, the executor must wait for the IRS to approve the return and issue a closing. The executor cannot distribute assets until this process completes, which could take up to two years if issues arise in the filing.
Another delay is that the estate might require the executor to liquidate assets. When the estate has assets harder to sell such as private shares in a business, real estate with tenants, or undesirable assets, selling them may take longer. Another example would be a family home that is in disrepair and must be first repaired, then wait for the however long it takes to sell.
Without liquidating these assets, the executor cannot move forward.
Will Contests and Accounting Contests
One of the most significant delays in probate is contests. Whether someone contests the will itself or they contest the accounting and property valuations, these cause significant delays. The estate must wait for an appointment with the court, which may take weeks or months to complete.
The executor must initiate a financial report to all beneficiaries that detail the transactions and any financial activities of the estate. This is one of the last steps before they can close it out and distribute assets. All it takes is for one beneficiary to disagree with that financial report and contest it. From there, the court must determine the accuracy of the accounting statement. This process alone could take up to one year.
The Bottom Line
There are numerous ways to delay the closing of an estate. While sometimes it could be the fault of the executor, most of the time it is out of their control. If you suspect that your executor is purposely delaying or not doing their fiduciary duty, then you should speak with an attorney to explore your options.
Working with a Qualified Attorney Can Help
Whether you need help as the executor of an estate or you would like to draft an estate plan that helps streamline the process, working with a qualified estate planning attorney in New York is your best option.
For assistance with your estate or the probate process, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., today at 516-605-0625 or you may contact us online. We offer free, no-obligation consultations.