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Wills & Estates

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What can a beneficiary under a will do to speed up the process of distributing the estate?
I'm a beneficiary under my deceased father's will. My sister is executor of the will, and distributing property under it, but she's not telling me anything about what's in the estate or what her plans are for probating the will. This has been going on for some time. What can I do to get information from her and speed the process?

What can a beneficiary under a will do to speed up the process of distributing the estate? - Nicco Bautista

A beneficiary under a will who is not an executor has a few options when it comes to moving the process along.

If the executor has not yet applied for probate, one option is for the beneficiary to serve on the executor a “citation” in relation to the will. The citation requires the executor to either apply for probate within 6 months, or renounce their appointment as executor (that is, step down).

If the executor has obtained a grant of probate, the executor is allowed one year from the willmaker’s death to gather in the assets and settle the affairs of the estate. During this time the executor cannot be compelled to pay cash gifts described in the will, but it is good practice for the executor to keep the beneficiaries informed as to the status of the estate’s administration.

A beneficiary can require the executor to pass their accounts after the one-year anniversary of obtaining probate. The accounts will show the estate’s revenues and disbursements during the executor’s administration. If the executor refuses or the accounts are inaccurate or incorrect, the executor can be brought before the court to explain.  

Under certain circumstances, a beneficiary may apply to court to have an executor removed. 

Nicco Bautista
BMO Wealth Management
Reviewed October 2017

For more detail on the steps involved in settling an estate, see our pages on Ten Steps to Settling an Estate and Probating the Will.