Dealing with Executors
Executors have a very difficult job, harder than most typically expect and most likely, a lot harder than the heirs can appreciate if they haven't done it themselves. In fact, one of the biggest concerns for executors when dealing with heirs is their confusion about how long estate settlement takes. At Executor Depot, we can save executors considerable time with free one-on-one support, resources and documents.
Equally, one of the biggest complaints that heirs have about executors is insufficient sharing of information, which can lead to distrust, animosity and in some cases, litigation. Therefore, proper and regular communication is essential for both parties.
Frequent communication brings the heirs into the estate settlement process which helps everyone feel more involved. Heirs should expect executors to consider their questions and try to give more frequent updates on those topics. The time spent communicating is far less than the time required to resolve disagreements and disputes that might otherwise emerge.
Throughout the estate settlement process, heirs should expect executors to continue to provide updates to all beneficiaries on the progress, as well as providing timeframes for upcoming stages.
When heirs are feeling stressed it's usually about money, but they can expect the executor to provide updates on the accounting of the estate including the total of assets and debts, which invoices have been paid, if any deposits were received and how the tax preparations are progressing. Heirs should be able to trust the executor (they were chosen by the testator because of their trustworthiness after all) but being apprised of the process can really help. If funds are needed sooner, heirs can consider inheritance loans. For more information click here.
Before involving third parties in disputes with executors, heirs should remember that estate settlement can take its toll not only on the immediate family of the executor, but the entire family affected by the death of the testator. The time involved can also take away from professional life, social activities, regular sports involvement and simple leisure activities - all of which can create stress.
If a third party is needed to intervene, consider contacting a certified executor advisor (CEA) or mental health counselor before going to a lawyer. It may be an issue that can be resolved fairly readily through proper discussion.
If legal intervention is absolutely necessary, be sure to contact a lawyer specializing in estates. Look for those with a TEP or CEA designation. Be clear about the issue(s) including dates, amounts, and any specific information you can provide. Understand the costs involved are not born by the estate, so be sure to get estimates ahead of time.
Hopefully heirs and executors can resolve their differences without litigating, through proper and regular communication and full disclosure of the estate settlement process.