How long does it take to receive funds once an executor is appointed?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How long does it take to receive funds once an executor is appointed?

My brother passed away without a will. My
mother was appointed executor on October 17.
My brother had a conservator handle his
accounts and I’m being told that he hasn’t
released the funds yet. I don’t understand why
he has to release them if he is no longer the
executor. Is this accurate information? We’re in
Massachusetts. Thank you

Asked on December 11, 2017 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is no easy answer; the answer, unfortunately, is "it depends." First, to state the obvious: it is possible that the conservator is doing something inappropriate, or previously had done something inappropriate, with the funds (e.g. invested them poorly, taken some for own use, etc.) and the funds you think are there are not and he is hiding that. I am not suggesting that is the case, or even is likely, but it is *a* possibility and I mention it because at some point, if you become convinced that there is no legitimate reason for the delay, your recourse would be for the executor (your mother) to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the estate against the conservator to get the money.
However, there are certainly legitimate reasons for a delay, such as:
1) When did you mother provide documentation showing her appointment to the conversator? It's not enough that she was appointed; the conversator (or anyone dealing with an estate) can and should insist on getting a copy of the court paperwork appointing or ratifying the executor before releasing money or information to them. So if there was a delay in getting that paper to the conservator, that could account for the delay.
2) When was a formal request for the funds made? Even after the conservator knows you mother was appointed executor, she needs to submit a written request for the funds.
3) If the conservator is someone who manages funds or accounts for many people (or is generally a lawyer or accountant, etc. with many clients), this may simply be working its way through his "to do" pile--it's of critical importance to your family, but may be only one of many accounts or clients to him, and so not necessarily high on his priority list.
4) It may take time to extract the funds from whatever kinds of investments they were in (e.g. liquidate assets) if they were not in "cash" form.
5) Vacation or illness or family emergency--has the person (the conversator) handling these accounts been out of the office during all or part of this period?
Other legitimate causes for delay are possible, too. But again: when you have exhausted how long legitimate delays may take, at that point, the executor may need to consider legal action to find out where the funds are and get them released.

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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