As the executor to a will for a family member, you may have a lot on your plate: inventorying and appraising assets, paying debts and potentially selling valuable real estate.
However, you may also have concerns about how other family members will feel about you handling the deceased’s property. Heirs and beneficiaries may worry that you will put your own interests first instead of following your loved one’s wishes. That makes it crucial that you make sure to communicate early and often with parties with an interest in the will.
1. Establish good communication from the start
One of your first responsibilities as executor will be notifying all beneficiaries that the deceased has left them in their will. Creating an email list can be a helpful way to communicate information efficiently while also creating a record that everyone can access when needed. However, before relying on email communication, make sure to follow up by phone to make sure beneficiaries are receiving important messages.
2. Maintain meticulous estate records
Before you can distribute assets, you must make a full inventory and appraisal of estate assets, pay outstanding estate debts and complete final tax obligations. It can be helpful to be transparent about these details with beneficiaries, especially if paying estate debts ends up reducing the amount they might receive.
3. Keep interested parties in the loop
When taking major steps, like selling a home or other valuable asset, make sure to let beneficiaries know your process and keep them informed about the progress of the sale.
As executor, you have an important fiduciary duty to follow the wishes of the deceased and to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. It is important to keep in mind that you may be personally liable for mistakes or oversights during the probate process.