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Dealing with problematic heirs and beneficiaries as an executor

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2023 | Estate Planning

As administrators of estates, executors must fulfill their duties efficiently and effectively. Otherwise, they would be accountable for errors. Unfortunately, some executors who have to deal with problematic heirs and beneficiaries may be unable to perform their responsibilities smoothly. This can adversely affect the administration process and the executor might take the fall for it.

For this reason, executors must anticipate these roadblocks and know how to effectively deal with them to ensure an unhampered estate administration.

People issues executors may encounter

No matter which environment we are in, we cannot control the people we get to interact with. Accordingly, executors cannot control who they deal with during estate administration. Some heirs and beneficiaries may be calm and patient, while others may be overly demanding. Specific issues the executor may encounter include the following situations:

  • Constant and unreasonable requests for updates
  • Attempting to take control of the administration
  • Harassing the executor
  • Threatening to sue without just cause or under false accusation

Anticipating problematic behavior such as those mentioned above can help executors keep their composure in the event that they do have to deal with them.

The priority is to keep the administration going

While it is challenging for an executor to deal with difficult heirs and beneficiaries, they must not deviate from their duties and continue to perform their obligations according to the testator’s will and the applicable laws.

Executors must remain patient and keep communications calm and appropriate. They can gently remind the involved parties that if they allow the executor to perform their duties unhindered, the process will generally be quicker and they will receive their shares of the estate faster.

If it becomes too much, obtaining advice from an estate administration and probate professional can help executors regain calm and control and guide them on how to manage the situation.