As you assume your role as executor of an estate, you might feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and neglect consistent communication with the beneficiaries. While you should certainly pay close attention to important duties such as taking inventory, getting appraisals and paying taxes, do not forget the crucial element of keeping beneficiaries in the loop.
Beneficiaries can easily get impatient, suspicious and even resentful during estate administration. If you fail to keep them well-informed, there could be a nasty legal battle over the estate. Below is a guide to fulfilling your responsibilities as an executor by communicating with beneficiaries.
Take the first step
As soon as you begin administering the estate, contact the beneficiaries to reduce worrying and complaining. Do not wait for them to come to you first. Try your best to reach them however you can: email, phone calls or even social media. Let them know that the will designated you the executor and that you will be collecting assets, paying taxes and distributing the estate to them. If probate proceedings are necessary, inform them of this, too, and give them an estimated timeframe. It is also a good idea to let them know if you are doing this with the help of an estate planning attorney.
Depending on the size of the estate, the administration and probate process can be especially time-consuming and confusing. Although you might feel frustrated with all the questions coming your way, do your best to remain calm and answer important questions. Keep beneficiaries informed of the process and answer their questions to the best of your ability. Let them know that you are keeping them in mind throughout every step and you will do everything to ensure they receive their inheritances.
If you are facing complaints or accusations from beneficiaries, it might be frustrating, but hang in there. When you make an effort to communicate effectively, you can ease their anxieties. If you need help dealing with the estate and beneficiary complaints, consult an estate planning attorney.