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An executor may have to deal with a belligerent beneficiary

If you are appointed the executor of an estate, you may not know much about the beneficiaries until your work begins.

Most beneficiaries are patient and cooperative. However, you may find that there is one restless heir whose impatience turns into belligerence. How do you treat such a person?

A demanding attitude

The probate process can be lengthy. Distributing assets on behalf of a decedent may take weeks or months, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. Most beneficiaries understand this, but an executor may have to put up with a beneficiary who becomes demanding and even belligerent. For example, he will constantly want updates on progress or accountings. If the executor does not accede to his requests, he may threaten to contest the will.

Seeking advice

A wise executor will seek the advice of an attorney, largely to help avoid the possibility of any missteps during the administration of the estate. If you treat the beneficiaries fairly, keep them informed about progress and follow the legal advice you are given, you are sure to feel confident in the job you are doing.

Working with beneficiaries

Communication is vital. The executor should provide progress updates to all beneficiaries on a regular basis and interact with them in a professional, businesslike way. A beneficiary who is not happy with your efforts may try to vent his frustrations on the attorney with whom you are working. This end-run type of approach can be stopped by ensuring that the legal firm refers all such calls to you as the executor. The business of wrapping up an estate and distributing the assets can be a complicated undertaking. When you administer the estate according to the laws of the probate court and in accordance with the wishes of the decedent, you can be assured of success, despite the sometimes disruptive actions of a belligerent beneficiary.

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