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I'm a beneficiary in an estate in NJ with another beneficiary (my brother who I don't talk to) that is the executor. We both get a 50% share. All assets have been disposed of and now there is nothing but cash left. Tax returns were filed long ago and likely all expenses have been paid.

The attorney for the estate does not communicate with me. I think they are stalling to try and get me to accept a smaller settlement to make the ordeal end. Is there any statute in NJ that says how long an estate can go on when there's only cash left, or can they wait me out as long as they like, or wait for me to take legal action?

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Here's an article on LegalZoom that outlines the minimum time necessary (they say 9 months). Creditors, for example, get 6 months in which to make their claims against the estate and the executor has 3 months to make a decision to dispute a claim. Disputing a claim will extend the time necessary to process the creditor's claims.

An estate subject to federal estate taxes (valued over $5.45 million) can take much longer - up to a year after the April following the year of death (based on when an estate tax return is due and how long the IRS is taking to issue a final letter).

From this NoLo article you can see that NJ estate tax returns are due 9-10 months after death and then one has to wait for the state to issue its tax waivers.

Here's another article that describes the typical time it takes to process an estate (average of 1 to 2 years) along with the types of issues that can extend the time. It also lists the process beneficiaries can follow in order to get the current status and perhaps nudge things along.

The executor is required to provide an accounting of the estate to the beneficiaries and will have to provide a final accounting to the probate court before final distribution. Either all beneficiaries will have to agree to the accounting or the court will have to process the accounting and approve it.

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  • The estate is about 3-1/2 years along. All taxes and tax returns were settled long long ago. It's down to cash that is not being distributed, at least to me. Only a very poor accounting was given. – Steve Y Sep 14 '16 at 11:23
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    It is probably possible to file a motion to compel distribution in the probate case that would involve minimal legal work. – ohwilleke Nov 13 '16 at 16:22

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