How To Handle The Executor Not Communicating With Beneficiaries

What leverage you have against an executor not communicating with beneficiaries?

Do you need to get the courts involved? 

Is the executor legally obligated to communicate with you? 

Do you need an attorney? 

In this article, we’re covering:

  • what the executor’s legal obligation is
  • what your rights are as a beneficiary
  • how to get the executor to communicate with you

So, let’s dig in. 

When the courts appoint an administrator to an estate, they can choose anyone. This includes creditors or third-party companies. Meaning you and your family lose all control over the estate.

If you want to create a will for your estate or file a petition to become the administrator of an estate, fill out the form below for a free consultation. 

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Executor Not Communicating With Beneficiaries

Let’s talk about what happens about an executor not communicating with beneficiaries. 

We’re going to quickly cover: 

  • an executor’s fiduciary duty for communicating with beneficiairies
  • what to do about an executor not communicating with beneficiaries

What Is The Executor's Duty For Communicating?

An executor has a fiduciary duty to keep the beneficiaries up to date on the probate process. 

And executors are obligated to inform people that they are beneficiaries of a will

(Yes, you have to tell your oddball cousin that your parents left them some of your inheritance.)

Executors have to keep beneficiaries up to date on the probate process. 

But they do not have to include the beneficiaries in the decision-making process. 

You may be concerned about the executor not communicating with beneficiaries. 

So, let’s talk about what the executor should be communicating with the beneficiaries. 

The executor should keep beneficiaries informed about:

  • what phase of the probate process the executor is working on
  • the progress of the estate
  • any forms the beneficiaries need to fill out
  • when distribution checks will arrive

As a beneficiary, you should be asking the executor any questions you may have. 

And send them via email so that you can keep records of the questions. 

That way, you have proof of the executor not communicating with beneficiaries. 

This will be important if you need to go to court

So, what should you do about an executor not communicating with beneficiaries?

Related: What If The Executor Does Not Probate The Will

What To Do About An Executor Not Communicating With Beneficiaries

An executor not communicating with beneficiaries is breaking their fiduciary duty

And the courts view this as misconduct. 

If you can prove misconduct, then the courts will remove the executor and find a replacement. 

Let’s say that you feel the executor is not communicating with beneficiaries.

The steps you should take are:

  1. Send A Demand Letter
  2. File A Motion For Removal

(You cannot sue the executor for not communicating with you.)

Related: Penalty For Stealing From An Estate

Send A Demand Letter

You can send a Demand Letter to the executor. 

This letter needs to clearly identify your complaint. 

And explain what you want the executor to do to solve the problem. 

Most of the time, the demand letter will resolve the issue. 

You can have an estate planning attorney help you write this properly. 

But what happens if the executor ignores the demand letter?

Related: What An Executor Cannot Do

File A Motion For Removal

Your estate lawyer can file a motion for the removal of the executor. 

But it’s your job to provide adequate evidence against the executor. 

This is why I recommended keeping email threads earlier. 

You want conversations that are time-stamped that you won’t delete. 

Related: Consequences Of Not Probating A Will

Questions About The Executor Not Communicating With Beneficiaries

These are questions about the executor not communicating with beneficiaries that our clients ask. 

Can An Executor Override A Beneficiary?

Yes, an executor can override a beneficiary if they are following the will or court orders. 

Executors can override a beneficiary’s wishes to uphold their fiduciary responsibility. 

Their fiduciary responsibility is to follow the will. 

But an executor not communicating with beneficiaries and not following the will is breaking the law.  

If the executor is doing this, then the beneficiaries can contest the will. 

And they can seek litigation against the executor. 

Does An Executor Have To Show Accounting To Beneficiaries?

An executor does have to show accounting to beneficiaries. 

One of the fiduciary duties of an executor is to keep detailed accounting. 

An executor has to keep detailed, clear records of all finances in the estate

The accounting that an executor needs to show to beneficiaries includes:

  • final medical expenses
  • the cost of burial or cremation
  • valid debts
  • income and estate taxes
  • accountants’ and attorneys’ fees
  • appraisal expenses
  • estate sale costs

Can An Executor Decide Who Gets What?

Yes, an executor can decide who gets what. 

But ONLY if the executor has a power of appointment

A power of appointment allows the executor to decide how to distribute property.

If they have a power of appointment, they do not have to follow a predetermined plan.

A general power of appointment allows the executor to distribute property to anyone.

A limited power of appointment gives direction on who to distribute assets to.

Limited power of appointments can direct assets to specific people.

These people include grandchildren, children, charities, etc.

Related: How To Get Power Of Attorney

What Is The Time Limit For Executor To Distribute Estate?

There is no time limit for an executor to distribute an estate. 

The only requirement is that they meet all statutory deadlines. 

As long as they do this, executors can take as long as necessary to distribute the estate. 

On average, it takes less than a year for an executor to distribute an estate.

But an executor distributing an estate can take longer if: 

  • if the executor and the beneficiaries get along
  • if the assets aren’t complicated (i.e., trusts)
  • if the estate isn’t taxable

Suing An Executor Of An Estate

When suing an executor of an estate, you need to prove that:

  • the executor’s duty was breached
  • the executor had a relationship to the estate

Suing an executor of an estate for an executor not communicating with beneficiaries won’t work. 

There has to be a loss on your part. 

This could be in the form of the executor stealing from the estate or losing your money.

Related: What Happens If No Probate Is Filed?

What To Do If The Executor Does Not Follow The Will?

If the executor does not follow the will, hire a probate attorney

And provide them with a copy of the will.

Note that you have a three-month time limit for contesting an executor of a will.

The executor is legally required to follow the will. 

Your attorney will file a petition with the courts to obtain a court order. 

The court may order the executor to pay damages to fix financial harm to the estate.

And if the executor is refusing to perform a required duty, the court may order them to perform it.

If this fails, the courts will remove the executor and replace them. 

Can The Executor Of A Will Change The Will?

An executor of a will cannot change the will. 

The executor has a legal duty to follow the instructions in the will. 

An executor’s only authority is to distribute the estate per the will. 

An executor cannot change the will. 

This is true even if the executor AND the beneficiaries want to change the will. 

The will has to get followed by the executor. 

Related: Difference Between Executor and Trustee

Can An Executor Of A Will Sell Property Without All Beneficiaries Approving?

Yes, an executor of a will can sell a property without all beneficiaries approving of the sale.

The executor’s responsibility is to follow the will. 

This is true regardless of whether the beneficiaries disagree with the will. 

An executor is free to sell a property as long as:

  • the transaction is fair (the house is sold at market value)
  • it’s in the best interests of the estate
  • it’s in line with the decedent’s wishes for the estate

If this is the case, then the executor can sell the property without beneficiary approval.

Related: How To File A Will

Do This If Your Executor Is Not Communicating

If you want the best probate attorneys to represent you, fill out the form below.

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This means that you don’t wrongfully lose assets to creditors.

We also make sure that the probate process is smooth and fair.

This means you don’t get raked over the coals financially.

After you fill out the form below, we will set up your free consultation.

Talk soon.

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