As an executor, how do you manage a difficult heir?

As an executor, how do you manage a difficult heir?

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2022 | Estate Planning & Probate |

It felt like an honor to be asked to be the executor of your loved one’s estate. You never imagined that actually performing your duties would feel like such a burden.

It’s not the actual process of securing the estate, managing the probate filings or paying your loved one’s final expenses that are the problem. It is one of the estate’s heirs. You never imagined how much pressure a disagreeable or difficult heir could cause you.

Lately, you find yourself regretting ever taking on this responsibility, and you’re at a loss about how to manage the situation. These tips, however, may help.

Try to understand why an heir is being difficult

It often helps if you can determine the root cause of the problems. Is the heir just anxious or confused because they don’t understand the probate process takes time? Are there unhappy family dynamics in play that are making the heir concerned about receiving what’s rightfully theirs? Does the heir simply resent your involvement or distrust you for some reason? Is it just in their nature to be this demanding?

Once you think you understand why someone is pushing you to do things out of order or pressing you for answers every day, you may be able to use that knowledge to inform your approach to the problem.

Give the heirs a clear understanding of the probate process

Often the problem comes down to the fact that few people really understand how probate or inheritances work. For example, your loved one’s son may know that he’s supposed to inherit his father’s watch collection, and he may not understand why you don’t simply hand those items over. Your loved one’s daughter may not realize that there are steps that have to be followed before investments can be cashed out and the assets distributed.

Sitting all the heirs down at once to explain the probate process and timeline might eliminate a lot of issues. When you’re dealing with probate, you don’t need additional problems. Experienced legal guidance can help.