My sympathies for your family's loss.
An executor (the person named in the will to distribute the property) has a fiduciary duty to the heirs. A fiduciary duty means that the person in the fiduciary capacity owes a duty to the other person- and that the fiduciary must act in good faith, with the best intentions, to preserve any property that is at issue. Failure to act in this manner (essentially, a trust/guardian) is considered a "breach" and can result in:
1. removal of the fiduciary
2. sanctions (ie fines, award of attorney fees, etc)
3. damages (economic liability for the damages suffered by the party to whom the duty was owed)
So if the executor fails to distribute the property according to the will, they can be liable for the cost of damages- ie the value of the inheritance wrongly withheld, plus attorney fees and costs if acting in bad faith and the court orders payment of these expense.
Generally one would hire an attorney to write a demand letter; if ignored one would then file a lawsuit for breach of fiduciary duty.
This helps ensure that the decedent's wishes are being respected.
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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.