How long does an executer have to settle an estate?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How long does an executer have to settle an estate?

My aunt in New Jersey passed last April. She left her estate including a property to me and my siblings. The property is still not up for sale. I feel that the executer is taking too long to settle the estate.

Asked on February 3, 2018 under Estate Planning, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard-and-fast timeline or deadline, and estates frequently take not just months, but years, to resolve. (For example: I am an attorney and had the help of local probate lawyer, too, and was also the only child and sole heir, so there was no issues about who got what, no need for discussions or negotiatons over what to do, etc., and was the executor as well,and it still took seven months to settle my father's modest estate.)
At some point, if and when you believe that there are no legitimate reasons for the delays and it simply has taken too long, you could bring an action (lawsuit) in the county court in which your aunt had lived seeking an "accounting": that is, to require the executor to account to the court for his or her actions. If the court agrees that the excutor is not fulfiling his/her respsonsibilities and/or acting improperly, the court could order him/her to do certain things (e.g. list real estate for sale) or even replace him/her as executor. If you want to explore this option, consult with a probate attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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