Keeping beneficiaries informed

Keeping beneficiaries informed is one of the things an executor should put at the top of their to do list. Beneficiaries who are kept in the dark tend to assume the worst and may even convince themselves that the executor is doing a bad job or that they’re dishonestly depriving them of their inheritances.

We know it is the legal duty of the executor is to inform beneficiaries that they are named in the Will and due to inherit, to provide a set of accounts and pass their inheritance. But surely the role of the executor is also to keep beneficiaries informed about what’s going on and why. 

To realise just how important, it is to keep beneficiaries informed put yourselves in their shoes for a few moments. They may have just lost a close relative or friend and now there is a legal process called probate to be completed before they can receive their inheritance. Most people will only ever have encountered probate once or twice in their lifetime. It’s therefore more than likely they will be unfamiliar with it, why it is necessary and what it entails. To make matters worse they may not be in charge of it; someone else called the executor is! Given these circumstances, it is easy to see why beneficiaries become anxious and confused by what’s happening to them. By just keeping the beneficiaries informed you can reduce the amount of stress involved in the whole process.

One of the main concerns of beneficiaries is always that things seem to take too long. Why? More than likely they may have little understanding of what to expect because they have no appreciation of what’s involved. How different could their perception be if they knew how much of the time taken to administer the estate was not down to the executor at all, but due to the process of probate itself. Keeping beneficiaries informed of delays in the process can help to reduce the amount of pressure you receive to move quicker.

Here are four examples.

1) There is the need to establish what the estate comprises and it value. This could involve valuations of property, shares and balances in banks all of which take time to arrange and confirm in writing.

2) Once the application is made to the Revenue and the Court, control over the process is completely out of the hands of the executor. 3) The executor is required to wait several weeks for any responses to statutory notices in local and national newspapers.

4)Then there is also a waiting period once probate has been granted to allow time for creditors time to come forward with their claims.

Essentially, the executor is working on behalf of the beneficiaries; they have a right to know what is happening with their inheritance. Keeping beneficiaries informed by being transparent at the outset about what’s involved, keeping them informed about where you are during the process has to be  preferable to answering awkward questions borne out of mistrust and misunderstand.