What if an executor does not distribute the estate

What happens if an executor does not distribute the estate? While it doesn’t happen all the time, it does happen with enough regularity to warrant this article. 

First, we should examine the priorities of the executor in distributing the estate:

  • The executor must gather and secure all of the assets of the estate.
  • The executor must identify and pay all debts owed by the estate.

After it is determined that there are sufficient funds to pay all debts, the executor can then begin the process of distributing the assets of the estate.

If, for some reason, the executor does not distribute the estate, you have some options:

  • Send a certified letter to the executor demanding distribution of the estate.
  • Give ample time for the executor to meet your demand.
  • If that fails, take action in the probate court that approved the appointment of the executor. You can ask for the executor to be replaced and/or ask the court to demand that the executor distribute the remaining assets of the estate.

Please remember that this advice is just a guideline, and that probate laws vary from state to state. Also remember that completion of the probate process can take several months, and sometimes even years depending on the size of the estate. In most cases, your patience will be appreciated and eventually rewarded toward the very end of the process.

Finally, if an executor does not distribute the estate, he or she can face some serious penalties, such as being held in contempt of court, fined, or given a jail sentence. A civil lawsuit can also be filed against the executor in an attempt to reclaim what is rightfully yours.

In summary, it is the job of the executor to put the interest of all beneficiaries before his or her own interests. And in legal matters such as this, if things do take a turn for the worse, it’s always beneficial to consult an attorney for professional advice.

2 comments on “What if an executor does not distribute the estate”

  • I am twenty four years old, my grandfather left me forty thousand dollars along with other assets, I was to inherit this when I turned twenty five with is December 2018. My mother was executor of the estate. She has spent the money and now I have gotten a letter from the IRS stating that I owe inheritance taxes. She will not give me a copy of the will & penalties & interest is adding up daily. It was stated the only way she could use the money was for my college or medical reasons which neither was used for. I don’t understand how she got the money and know the IRS is coming after me. I was a minor when my grandfather died, how can I recover my money and what do I do about the IRS. The will was produced in Paducah Kentucky. Thank you.

    • Tyler,

      Our advice would be to call the bar association in your county to obtain the name of an attorney who will be able to assist you.

      Thank you!

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