What Can Be Done to Force an Executor to Finalize an Estate?

By Maggie Lourdes

An executor is a person appointed by a probate court to administer a decedent's estate. An executor has a legal duty to gather all estate assets for distribution to a decedent's beneficiaries and heirs. She must always act in good faith and deal expeditiously on behalf of the estate. An executor is obligated to finalize an estate by turning over estate assets to the heirs and giving a final accounting to the court.

An executor is a person appointed by a probate court to administer a decedent's estate. An executor has a legal duty to gather all estate assets for distribution to a decedent's beneficiaries and heirs. She must always act in good faith and deal expeditiously on behalf of the estate. An executor is obligated to finalize an estate by turning over estate assets to the heirs and giving a final accounting to the court.

Forcing Executors to Finalize Estates

Only parties with legal standing can force an executor to finalize an estate. Individuals with a legal interest in an estate have standing. Examples of interested parties would be beneficiaries and heirs, or conservators or guardians named in a will. An interested person first must come forward to force an executor's hand to finalize an estate.

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Gathering Information

An interested party can gather information to prove an executor's inefficiency if he believes the estate is being mismanaged. He can request that the executor disclose all the actions taken while handling the estate's business. If the executor refuses to cooperate, he should hire an attorney should to make a formal request for the information. If an estate closes within one year it is usually not considered overdue.

Making a Demand

An interested party can make a written demand to finalize an estate directly to an inefficient executor. Making the demand through an attorney can be stronger and may get a quicker result. The demand should outline proof that the executor is neglecting his role. It may also set a deadline for finalization of the estate to avoid legal action.

Seeking Court Intervention

If an executor refuses to finalize an estate after a written demand, the interested party should contact the probate court and request a hearing to close the estate. This is done by filing a motion along with evidence that the executor neglected his duty to finalize the probate file. The motion and the hearing date must be served on the executor and all other interested parties in the estate. The complaining party and his attorney must attend the hearing to orally argue why the executor should be ordered to finalize the estate. The judge can then issue an order forcing the executor to do so.

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What If the Executor of a Will Denies the Executorship?

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What Is the Meaning of "Executor of an Estate"?

An executor is a person who manages the estate of the deceased, known as the decedent. Also called a personal representative, the executor is typically named in a will. A judge chooses and appoints an estate administrator if a decedent dies intestate, or without a will, or does not name an executor in his will. An estate administrator basically has duties and powers equivalent to an executor. Each state has individual laws regarding estates and executorships.

Removal of an Executor of Estate's Responsibilities

An estate executor is responsible for handling the decedent's, or deceased person's, estate including bill payment and property distribution. The executor is named in the decedent's will; he receives his authority from court through legal proceedings known as probate. If an executor's responsibilities are removed before he completes his duties, a new person must be appointed to finish settling the estate.

What Happens if an Executor Refuses to Probate?

An executor has a duty to act in the best interest of the estate, and refusing to probate an estate may be cause for the executor to be removed. State probate laws differ, but the Uniform Probate Code, approved by the National Conference of Commissioners On Uniform State Laws, provides a general framework for handling an executor refusing to move the probate process along. In addition to removal, an executor may be held personally liable for breaching his fiduciary duty to the probate estate.

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