Legal Solutions

2 causes of conflicts between beneficiaries and the executor

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Estate Planning

An executor should work closely with the beneficiaries when performing their duties. But this is not always the case. These two parties can conflict, which can result in serious measures, such as the removal of the executor.

Below are two factors that can contribute to such disputes:

Lack of communication

An executor should keep beneficiaries reasonably informed. If a beneficiary asks an executor a question and the latter fails to provide adequate information, conflicts may arise. The beneficiary may believe the executor is hiding something and this may lead to disagreements.

Nonetheless, an executor may not be required to inform beneficiaries about every decision they make. If an executor feels like a beneficiary wants to know everything, including minor details that may not be subject to disclosure, conflicts may also arise.

Breach of fiduciary duty

Executors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. If a beneficiary believes an executor has breached this duty, which can stem from a lack of communication or the executor’s actions regarding managing assets, paying debts and so on, the two parties may conflict.

How to solve such conflicts

Not all disputes between an executor and beneficiaries should end up in court or lead to a removal. An executor may have reasonable grounds for not responding to a beneficiary on time or they may forget to offer updates, and beneficiaries may have a logical argument for believing the executor is not acting in their best interest and the estate. Practical measures, such as an executor providing a detailed explanation of their actions and a beneficiary sending follow-up emails, can help solve such misunderstandings. 

If an executor and beneficiaries can’t solve a dispute, legal guidance can help determine the best way forward.