What can I do if co executors will not meet with me?

Skylerrose asked...

I'm a co executor of my father's estate and the other co executor will not make time to set up a new bank account that I'm requesting a dual signature on. How do I get him to meet and get this accomplished? He has had control of my father's estate since his death four years ago. I've never been given an accounting of any kind and I just don't trust his wife who does all the paperwork.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Most probates, even if there is considerable property to be administered, are closed within a year or so. So it's rather mysterious how and why your situation has dragged on for four long years. One would expect that beneficiaries and creditors would be nipping at your heels by now to nudge the probate process along.

Because executors are charged with the fairly heady responsibility of controlling and distributing another person's property, the law imposes a high standard of behavior on them: They have the duty to act honestly, prudently, loyally, and impartially--and you must also act to wind up the estate within a reasonable time. Four years is pushing those limits.

And another troublesome truth here is that if you and another person were named as co-executors, you share those duties and responsibilities equally. So you are also responsible for moving things along--and at least theoretically, you have as much control over the estate as the other co-executor has over it. Executors who are found to have caused an estate to lose money through carelessness or neglect may also be personally liable for paying back the loss.

It's important that you get to the bottom of what's causing your co-executor to drag his or her feet, since in the eyes of the law, you're dragging your feet, too. Make a list of all that needs to be done to wind up the probate--and submit it to the other executor with a timetable and suggestions for how you can divide and conquer. If there are hurdles about why the two of you can't work together, consider going to mediation to resolve them.

If none of these approaches work, consider going to the probate court for help. Some will act by imposing deadlines on the executors and in drastic cases, will remove an executor who is not performing the required legal duties.