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When heirs and beneficiaries question an executor’s actions

Many Illinois estate owners have made plans to protect their assets and provide for their loved ones’ financial security when the time comes to administer their estates. Written terms are critically important regarding a given estate plan. Equally or, perhaps even more important is making sure that all those who are named as heirs and beneficiaries understand their roles and the terms as they are written.  

A family disagreement has arisen in another state between siblings whose father recently died. One of the man’s children was named as executor. Another sibling, however, was named as a co-executor and had reportedly served as the man’s caretaker before he passed away. The remaining siblings in the family say that they understood they were to receive a certain amount of inheritance as per a verbal agreement they had with their father.  

However, the executor informed them that the co-executor is receiving a check for a larger amount because it is what their father wanted. An executor often has a lot of control over distribution of assets in an estate plan, depending on how the plan was written. In some situations, there may have been formal updates to a plan; if all heirs and beneficiaries were not made aware of such changes at the time, they may be surprised to learn that the amount of the inheritance they assumed they would receive was lowered (or eliminated altogether).  

In situations where heirs and beneficiaries disagree, it can help to reach out for legal support. An experienced Illinois estate planning attorney can review a written plan to help clarify the legal terms therein. An attorney can also act on behalf of any party who wishes to litigate a particular issue.