One of the biggest blunders that personal representatives make when handling a probate estate is failing to communicate with beneficiaries. For some reason, most of the phone calls that I receive from folks who are looking at contesting a will or removing the personal representative has to do with a lack of communication. This is the typical call. Hi Guy. I’ve reached out to my brother or my sister or my aunt or my uncle, the person who is handling the estate. I ask them what what’s going on with the estate? I asked them what’s going on with the assets? I asked them for simple information, and they don’t respond to me. The next thing out of the caller’s mouth is why are they doing this? – Because they aren’t answering my questions – I can’t trust them.
When personal representatives don’t respond to heirs and beneficiaries, they start making things up in their minds and believe that something going wrong? Is the executor misusing the money? Why are they hiding things from me? Lack of communication breeds lack of trust.
At this point the heirs and beneficiaries start to get suspicious and things typically go awry. If you want to be a good executor, keep in contact with the heirs and beneficiaries. Let them know what’s happening. If you have a house that’s up for sale, let them know about any potential offers that are out there. Let them know if you haven’t had any offers. Let them know how the process of the sale is going.
You don’t have to listen to them if you say, well, I think we have a good offer or sell the property. As the executor in an unsupervised estate, it’s your call when to sell the property as long as you are making a reasonable decision.
If you want to avoid getting a call from my office because your family member is pissed at the way you are handling the estate, just keep them informed and apprised of what is going on. If you cut off communication, it will cause hard feelings and potentially lead to litigation. Even if it doesn’t cause a lawsuit, it may destroy your relationship with the family member.
The number one element in a strong marriage is communication between husband and wife. The number one element in a strong family is communication with your kids. And the number one element when you are handling an estate is communication with the heirs and beneficiaries.