Communicate with beneficiaries throughout the process

There is often a subconscious fear that an executor is “self-dealing,” which means putting himself or herself first instead of making the well-being of the beneficiaries the priority. Communication is your best tool to combat this potential fear. For instance, beneficiaries might want to know why you are removing items from a home and where they are being stored. Are you “storing” or “stealing” those items?

Heirs will definitely want to know when you’re spending to prepare the home for sale, when an acceptable offer is made and accepted, and when the house is put under contract. Email is a great communication tool, as it allows you to communicate on a regular basis, get input in an organized fashion, and maintain a record of what has been communicated. You might be amazed at how poor your memory is of events that happen shortly after the funeral of a loved one. The beneficiaries also might experience the same effect.

If you choose to create an email list and ask for input in your email communication, always use the “silence is acceptance” principle. Share your plans and tell people that if you haven’t heard back from them by a given date (usually a week out), that you’ll assume they are in agreement. It is generally good practice to follow up by phone the first time you do that to ensure that they are getting your emails and checking their email regularly.