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How to deal with an estate’s difficult beneficiaries

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2023 | Estate Litigation

Being named the executor of someone’s will is a big honor – but it’s also a big responsibility and a time-consuming job.

Unfortunately, your work can become even more difficult when the expected beneficiaries of an estate are high-conflict people. A death can provoke all kinds of strange family dynamics, and you can end up caught in the middle of a real “family feud” through no fault of your own. Sometimes, those disputes can even turn into legal action, which would further complicate the probate process and your duties. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to minimize the potential for conflict.

Securing the estate (especially the little things)

As the executor, it’s your job to secure all of the estate’s assets. While it can be easy to focus on the big things, like investments, real estate, bank accounts and cars, don’t forget that you also need to secure their personal possessions until it comes time to properly distribute the estate.

Family heirlooms and mementos can be a huge source of hard feelings, especially if someone gets into the deceased’s things and takes something that is designated for another. If you put a stop to that sort of thing early in the process, that can send the message that you intend to play by the rules and make sure that the estate is distributed according to the deceased’s intentions.

Preparing the beneficiaries for a wait

Most people have no real idea how long it takes for an estate to go through probate, so be the source of information that the beneficiaries need.

Explain to everybody that it takes some time before disbursements can be made. Let them know that creditors have to be notified, claims will have to be paid and the court has to authorize everything. In Nevada, even a routine probate proceeding can take up to 180 days, and many estates take longer.

By helping the beneficiaries understand the process ahead, you can work to effectively manage their expectations. Yet, being an executor can be overwhelming, even without any conflicts. Seeking qualified legal guidance can make the job a lot easier.

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