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  • Writer's pictureCook Tillman

When selecting an executor, think about your beneficiaries

In a recent post, we discussed some of the roles and responsibilities that an estate administrator or executor will typically have. In that post, which can be read here, we noted that one of the primary functions this person will serve is to manage relationships with beneficiaries and ensure the decedent’s wishes are fulfilled.

However, this task can be all but impossible if an executor has a negative relationship with beneficiaries. The administration of iconic musician Jerry Garcia’s estate is a good example of a bad situation involving an executor at odds with beneficiaries.

According to reports, Garcia left his estate in the hands of his third wife. Typically, it is not an issue to leave administrative duties to a spouse, but in this case, it spelled disaster.

Garcia’s widow was in a position to ensure Garcia’s two ex-wives, four daughters and one stepdaughter received payments promised to them by Garcia. However, there was bad blood between the widow and two ex-wives and a massive, complex estate in the middle. Not surprisingly, disputes and legal battles have erupted in the two decades that have passed since Garcia’s death.

Avoiding these same issues

As you think about your estate plan, you likely want to avoid these and other contentious situations. To do this, think carefully about who you name as an executor. If your spouse or loved one doesn’t get along with your beneficiaries, think about naming someone else to administer your estate.

You can also discuss with your attorney any pain points or difficult family members that might present problems during probate or other situations. You can then make certain decisions and utilize certain planning tools to squash disputes before they arise.

Family dynamics can get heated when the time comes to administer an estate. To protect your wishes and to minimize difficult situations for your loved ones, it can be a good decision to create and regularly review your estate plan with these dynamics in mind.


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