In Massachusetts, a beneficiary is entitled to see all the information, but only with the final accounting. When communicating with beneficiaries, executors should use common sense. Communicate with beneficiaries throughout the process There is often a subconscious fear that an executor is “self-dealing,” which means putting himself or herself first instead of making the well-being of the beneficiaries the priority. The executor is not a good communicator: Some executors are not good at communicating. The executor is not required to share every detail of the estate with the beneficiaries until the final accounting. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. "The Common Executor is about helping future Executors and those planning their estates to avoid the pitfalls of estate administration. When the executor has to make a tough decision, the executor should never poll beneficiaries as to what they think the decision should be. An executor’s biggest responsibility to beneficiaries is to notify them that they are, in fact, beneficiaries. Maybe - Depends on the person asking and the life they led. Although beneficiaries have the right to information on the estate, they don’t have the right to know what the other beneficiaries are to receive from the estate. If that’s the case, then it’s good for the beneficiary to take the initiative and open up the channel of communication. I am New York estate lawyer Albert Goodwin, and I can be reached at (212) 233-1233. 42. Executor Not Communicating With Beneficiaries. They cannot favor one beneficiary or heir over the others, and they need to communicate with all of the interested parties. Executor Accounting to Beneficiaries. When an executor is not communicating with beneficiaries, the beneficiaries may lose their patience and bring a proceeding to compel the executor to file a judicial accounting. The executor should avoid telling beneficiaries the exact property they will receive if listed in the will. However, if there is a reading of the will or the beneficiary has a copy of the will, this may be unavoidable. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. If an executor wants a smooth administration, communicating with the beneficiaries of an estate is essential. So, in  regular communications with beneficiaries, the executor should limit information to the following: Basically, the executor should share only the details that affect every beneficiary the same in regular communications. If there’s nothing left after that or the liabilities of the estate exceed the assets, the beneficiaries won’t receive an inheritance. Or, the beneficiaries can compel the executor to provide all of the documents associated with the estate as well as the executor’s personal documents. The court gives the executor the right to act on the decedent’s behalf. But to simply return a call and state that the attorney cannot disclose information would be a better practice than ignoring the calls. Arrogance: Some executors relish the feeling of power and control, and they want to extend that feeling into an ability to keep the beneficiaries in the dark. Learn how your comment data is processed. Or if you are an executor and you think that the beneficiaries are wrongly accusing you of misconduct? If that’s the case, the next step for a beneficiary would be to compel the executor to file a formal accounting with the court. And, that statement is true. 10 What should be done with the assets and liabilities of the estate? In New Jersey, the executor is required to disclose to the beneficiaries all actions undertaken to liquidate the estate. It is better for the executor not to upset the beneficiaries. Avoiding acrimony means saving having to go through the stress and expense of litigation. I will contact you when the information is ready”. Independent probate cases still require executors to provide accountings to beneficiaries and courts. It's not enough that the beneficiaries simply don't like the executor. Unfortunately, it can be made even more trying if the relationship between the executor and the estate beneficiaries is antagonistic. Communicate. One of these duties includes preserving the assets for the benefit and distribution to the beneficiaries. One potential reason for this is that the attorney represents the executor and NOT the beneficiaries. Provide regular updates to beneficiaries regarding the status of administration to avoid any Send a copy of the Will to each beneficiary entitled to receive a copy. When communicating with beneficiaries, executors should use common sense. A person serving as an executor of an estate is also tasked with serving in a fiduciary capacity. Communicate with creditors and beneficiaries … However, the executor isn’t required to consult with the beneficiaries or keep them updated every single step of the way. Your email address will not be published. And they feel that the executor could be doing something that will result in the beneficiaries not getting their fair share of the estate from the executor. New York, NY 10006 Avoiding acrimony means saving having to go through the stress and expense of litigation. ... An executor is required to file the Estate Information Return within 90 days of the date of the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee, with or without a will. Misconduct: A minority of executors go as far as to steal from the estate and mismanage the estate and then attempt to cover up their misdeeds by not communicating with the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries do have recourse against an executor who violates his duty to the estate. Payment for this assistance is paid from the assets in the estate before any distribution to the beneficiaries. Communicate directly with beneficiaries, gather information, and set expectations (this should happen early in the process). A Trustee is Not Communicating With the Beneficiaries – Is That Allowed? In regular communications, avoid pointing out the belligerent or disgruntled beneficiary, if any, involved in a dispute. Failure to communicate and/or account to beneficiaries is a red-flag for fraud. It is best for the executor to communicate with the beneficiaries. To have a smooth administration the executor should communicate regularly with the beneficiaries as revealed in the article Communicating with the Beneficiaries is Essential for the Executor. Someone who has been nominated as the executor by the will but is not yet appointed by the court might think that they are not an executor yet. Alternatively, they may choose to do so themselves. 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