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Executor Responsibilities: How Long to Distribute Assets From a Will?

Ali Katz


Q: How Long Does an Executor Have to Distribute Assets From a Will?

- Watching and Waiting

A: Dear Waiting:

In most states, a will must be executed within three years of a person’s death. The longer answer is, naturally, it depends.

An executor first has to file probate and pay fees to the court in order to be officially appointed as executor. Next, they are responsible for identifying all assets. The length of time this takes depends on whether or not the deceased left proper records to share this information. Then, the executor will file final income taxes and post a death notification so creditors have the opportunity to collect on debts. House payments, and payments to lawyers, etc., will also come out of the estate.

After all these steps are completed, and as long as the will isn’t contested, the executor has to file a final estate accounting with the probate court. Once that is approved, they can finally start disbursing assets to you.

Sometimes if the will is taking an unexpectedly long time to execute, you might be able to get partial distributions, depending on the laws of your state. If you believe the executor might not be doing their duty, you can file a request for accounting with the probate court.

No matter what, though, patience is a must when it comes to anything to do with inheritance and wills, so hang in there. Reach out to a Personal Family Lawyer® with any questions.