Beneficiaries of New York estates will often approach us asking our help in keeping an eye on the estate’s executor. This is often the result of the executor not sharing information about the estate with the beneficiary, the executor’s unreasonable delays, or when the executor’s behavior has raised the beneficiary’s concern.
When we are asked about what steps a beneficiary can take to keep an eye on the executor, I will outline various options, such as:
- Reviewing the estate’s file at the County Surrogates’ Office. The executor is required to make certain, timely filings with the Surrogate. These filings may hold valuable information about the executor’s progress…or lack thereof.
- Contact the executor’s attorney to let that attorney know that you have now retained an attorney experienced in New York Probate and an attorney experienced in the New York Surrogate’s Court. Sometimes an executor just needs a “nudge” from a lawyer to compete the estate.
- Request an Informal Accounting and copies of the estate’s various tax returns. We would then review these documents with you for accuracy. Some executors make mistakes on these documents that are difficult for a non-Probate Attorney to recognize.
- Threaten to file a Petition for Formal Accounting and possibly a Petition to Remove the Executor. Sometimes it is necessary to go to court. This is a threat our firm can back up, as we have both a Probate and a Surrogate Court Litigation department.
The exact plan of action taken whenever a Beneficiary asks us to keep an eye on an executor will depend on the exact facts of the case and the relationships between the interested parties.
Some executors are slow to close an estate because of legitimate reasons, but at other times it is because they are lazy, emotionally unable to complete the job, spiteful or they can even be criminals using delay to cover their theft. When a New York estate is not being handled in a manner you think appropriate, it is a good idea to have an experienced New York Probate and Surrogate Court lawyer on your side.
If you have questions about New York County Probate, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Wills, Trusts and Estates, It’s all we do!