If a parent has asked you to serve as the executor for your parent’s estate, you should know that you will have to communicate with estate beneficiaries concerning the estate. A failure to keep heirs in the loop could cause them to suspect you are mishandling their inheritance. It could even lead to litigation to remove you as executor.
You should be ready to communicate with heirs concerning a number of developments with the estate. Smart Asset provides some information on when an executor should be ready to talk to beneficiaries.
Give an initial notification
Say you have one or more siblings who live away from Florida. They may not learn that your parent has died and do not know they have an entitlement to an inheritance. As an executor, you must send a notification to your siblings if your parent has named them as heirs. This way, they will not only know to receive their inheritance, but they will have the opportunity to contest estate actions that they disagree with.
Provide estate information
Estate heirs have the right to receive information concerning the estate, so you need to let beneficiaries know about the assets the estate contains. Also, you should be ready to discuss your parent’s outstanding debt. Since creditors may lay claim to some of the estate assets to pay off the debt, the heirs should know how you plan to use estate assets to settle the debts.
Even if you do not have precise information about how to handle a specific estate issue, you should consider letting the beneficiaries know where you are in the probate process or you might generate suspicion from your silence. Remember that heirs can litigate an executor if they suspect the executor is defrauding them of their inheritance.
Your parent’s death would likely cause a lot of emotional distress among the heirs to your parent’s estate. Even you might struggle to keep everything on track. Still, if you can keep beneficiaries in the loop, you might prevent discord and generate confidence that you are acting in the best interests of everyone involved.