Estate administration is somewhat notorious for being a time-consuming process. While you may hope to receive your share of the inheritance promised in the estate plan quickly, the executor has many things they have to do before they can distribute assets to you and other beneficiaries.

For example, the executor needs to collect all critical financial paperwork and present that, along with copies of the estate plan or last will, to the probate court. They will then need to pay taxes, settle debts and close out the account owned by the deceased party. Only once they have handled all of the testator’s obligations can they start to distribute assets to heirs.

Sadly, this means that your inheritance is dependent upon the actions of someone else. What can you do when an executor isn’t fulfilling their obligations?

Verify that the executor isn’t taking the necessary steps now

Before you start making accusations against someone who likely is either part of your family or has close ties to your family, you want to make sure that you don’t misunderstand the situation. It’s possible that the executor has slowly but surely been dealing with the various responsibilities inherent to their position.

If they have submitted the last will, begun closing accounts and are otherwise in the process of handling the estate, you may simply need to be patient for a little bit longer until they are in a position to distribute property from the estate. However, if they have not closed accounts, paid bills or otherwise performed their necessary duties, you may need to consider taking legal action.

You can challenge an executor without challenging the estate

One thing that most people don’t understand about probate litigation is that it is possible to challenge the person handling the estate without challenging the executor.

If you believe that an executor hasn’t fulfilled their obligations and won’t do so or is not capable of doing so, asking the court to appoint an alternate executor may be the best option for you and everyone else. After all, delays could impact the value of the estate and even lead to creditors seizing assets in some cases.