If an estate is still not settled a year after, is there anyway to speed up the process?

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If an estate is still not settled a year after, is there anyway to speed up the process?

Our cousin is executor of our Aunt’s estate; she passed away just over a year ago. The estate is still not settled, and our cousin says it could be another 5 or 6 months. Everything in the Trust is completed. We think our cousin is deliberately delaying the process out of spite for other relatives that are named in the Trust.

Asked on May 10, 2015 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

How long it takes to settle a Trust after the creator dies will depend on just what needs to be done. Typically, it takes several months, although it could take longer than that. For example, if the trustee has to determine the value of numerous assets and then has to sell them, or if there are mutiple creditor claims against the Trust, or if there is a complicated tax situation. Without knowing the details of your specific situation, it's hard to say more.

 

That having been said, if a Trust has not been settled within a reasonable amount of time, the beneficiaries do have remedies available to them. One or more of them can go to court and and request that the trustee be replaced or forced to act. However, it's important to be sure the trustee is really acting unreasonably as the court will only remove them if they have seriously breached their fiduciary duties (either intentionally or negligently).  Also, you should be aware that if the trustee successfully defends against an attempt to be removed, the costs of that defense can be taken out of Trust assets and the dispute will prolong or slow the settlement process.

 


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