The Executor Won’t Talk To Me!
You would be shocked to learn how many clients come in to my office simply because a Personal Representative (Executor) in a probate matter fails to communicate with them. I have said it before, and I will say it again, when it comes to probate matters and avoiding litigation, transparency can be the Executor’s best friend! Without transparency, the heirs and beneficiaries are left in the dark as to what is going on with their inheritance, and they begin to worry about what the Executor might be doing with all those assets.
Well shouldn’t the Executor be bending over backwards to make sure we know everything that is going on in the probate? Isn’t that what they signed up to do?
The simple answer is both yes and no. You have to remember, most people that are appointed as the Executor have never done this before. As such, they are entering new territory, are being flooded with a whole bevy of duties and responsibilities, and are likely getting several inquiries from all the beneficiaries on a weekly basis. That being said, the Executor does have certain duties and responsibilities as to keeping those with an interest in the Estate updated as to what is going on.
Ok, I get that; it isn’t easy being an Executor. However, the Executor I am dealing with has completely ignored me and has not provided me with any information as to the Estate whatsoever. Now I am worried that they are doing something wrong. Can I do anything?
This is another common problem; sometimes, Executor’s are so secretive and uncooperative that beneficiaries can not help but think something shady is going down. In these instances, there are several methods that an interested beneficiary can do to require the Executor to provide more transparency. Namely, you can request an inventory to be provided, you can demand an accounting (under the right circumstances), or you can file a Request for Provision of Special Notice of Proceedings; if you are interested in pursuing any of these however, I would highly suggest you retain an attorney to help make sure they are appropriately handled.
So, what do we do if we get all of these documents and find out that the Executor has been mishandling the estate?
Unfortunately, this does happen. In these circumstances, you will absolutely want to hire an attorney to help you pursue a claim against the Executor for a breach in their fiduciary duties. In many circumstances, the Court may have already placed a bond requirement on the Executor, so you might potentially have some protections in place for any mishandled amounts. However, the most important thing that you will first wish to seek from the Court will be the removal of the Executor. Again, you will want to hire an attorney to assist in the event that this circumstance arises.
If I am ever appointed as an Executor, what can I do to hopefully avoid unhappy beneficiaries?
As I said above, one of the key items in keeping the beneficiaries happy is to provide them with transparency in the matter. This can best be achieved by hiring an attorney to assist with the probate. He or she will make sure that you are well informed of your duties, help to remove strenuous procedural burdens from your fiduciary obligations, and can also assist in helping you to keep the beneficiaries informed as to the status of the probate.
If you have any further questions regarding the transparency of a probate matter, or if you are interested in having an attorney assist you with a probate, Nowakowski Legal PLLC would be glad to assist. Contact us for a free consultation today!