time limit on distribution of estate assets

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time limit on distribution of estate assets

My brother is executor of my mother’s estate. My mother died over a year ago and some things have not yet been distributed to myself and my sister. In particular, the hundreds of family photographs have not been addressed. Is there a time limit in the state of Virginia for this to happen? Can he just keep these items for himself if they have not been specifically assigned for distribution to other family members? Thanks for your help.

Asked on May 31, 2018 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) There is no specific time limit or time frame within which this must be done.
2) An executor has NO right to keep anything not left to him.
3) Despite there being no hard-and-fast time frame, executors are held to a "fiduciary duty" to a) obey or honor any will; b) if there is no will, to follow the laws for "intestate succession" (distribution when there is no will); c) be loyal to beneficiaries; and d) act with reasonable care and haste in fulfilling his responsibilities. If you believe he is violating one or more of these obligations, you can bring a legal action for an "accounting" (that's the traditional name; it's possible your state has a different name for this) to make him "account" for his actions as executor. This kind of action is much more complicated than, say, a small claims suit; you are strongly advised to let a probate attorney help you. If you don't want a lawyer to help you (or cannot afford one), contact the probate court in the county where your mother lived for basic instructions.


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