Share your action plan with beneficiaries
While your executor role and responsibilities are somewhat dictated by the court, it is good for you to begin communicating your step-by-step action plan – and related timing – with the beneficiaries as soon as practicable. You can provide some peace at a difficult time by letting them know you take your role seriously. You’ll want to allow yourself some cushion in the schedule you create.
There are many steps in this process that you can’t control. The probate courts tend to move at their own speed and can’t be rushed. The sale of a home can take five weeks – or 15 months. You want beneficiaries to understand that you are engaged, getting the proper professional help, and have their best interests at heart.
Here is a sample letter you can use to share your plans with beneficiaries. This letter will simplify your communication of your plan with them. Feel free to cut and paste in into a document or email you will send to beneficiaries. Use only what is relevant to your personal situation.
Sample Letter to Beneficiaries
FILL IN NAMES OF BENEFICIARIES. Don’t forget you need to include organizations who are beneficiaries. For example, many people leave charitable organizations as beneficiaries in their will.
FILL IN NAME OF TESTATOR/DECEASED named me executor in his/her will. As executor, I am responsible for the administration of the estate. This means I will take care of things like filing the will with the probate court and following their requirements, keeping up with the day-to-day needs such as payment of bills and upkeep of the home, and ensuring money and property in the estate is protected until it can be distributed. I am learning more about my role through executor.org.
A copy of the will is enclosed/attached in/to this letter. It will serve as my guiding document through the administration. As executor, I am required to act in good faith and will experience legal penalties if I do not. I must follow the will as it is written and will not give special treatment to anyone. To ensure I do everything I am supposed to, I will have a record-keeping system and will have a detailed list of steps I complete along the way provided by executor.org.
I plan to engage professionals to help me. For example, I plan to hire an attorney to help with the legal aspects of moving through the probate court and I plan to hire an accountant to help file the required taxes.
Through this process, the estate will pay any costs incurred in the administration. Because of this, I will work to keep expenses to a minimum by doing things such as canceling unnecessary services. I will not act irresponsibly, though, by not hiring the professionals needed to do my job properly.
—optional paragraph—-The will/law states I may be compensated for the work I do on behalf of the estate. I will keep track of everything I do and how long it takes me to accomplish each task in the administration. I will receive $FILL IN THE BLANK per hour for my work.
At the end of the administration of the estate, I will work with you to distribute the assets of the estate according to the will. This is one of the last steps in the process. Know that I will work to protect the assets until we get to this point and I cannot distribute even the smallest item until instructed to do so by the probate court. Further, any distributions to beneficiaries named in the will are made only after all debts of the estate are paid.
The process of administration is a long one. Unfortunately, there is not an exact timeline I can provide for you. I will, though, provide updates to you along the way so you can understand where we are in the process.
I will continue to communicate with you throughout the process. If you have questions please contact me at (EMAIL/PHONE).