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Must executors disclose all estate information to beneficiaries?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Probate |

As an executor of an estate, you have a legal and fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate’s beneficiaries. This typically includes a responsibility to keep them informed about the estate and its administration.

But what if a beneficiary asks you information you are unsure you should share with them? Does the law require you to?

Not all—only what the law requires

As an executor, you generally must disclose information about the assets of the estate, the outstanding debts and liabilities and the actions you are taking to administer the estate.

However, there are certain information that you, as an executor, are not required to disclose, such as privileged communications with your attorney, details unrelated and irrelevant to the beneficiary’s interests or information the disclosure of which will be determinantal to the estate and its administration.

How to determine what information to disclose

Executors have the discretion to decide whether to disclose an information about the estate and its administration to the beneficiaries. If a beneficiary requests to disclose information or documents, you should consider the following before doing so:

  • The nature and extent of the requesting beneficiary’s interests
  • The nature of the information they are requestion, such as whether it is confidential
  • The reason why the beneficiary is requesting for such information

If the answers to these considerations does not adversely impact the estate or hinder its administration, it may be acceptable to share the requested information. Otherwise, it is not advisable to release details until you are sure it is relevant to the process or are within the beneficiary’s rights.

Don’t let confusion keep you from doing your duty

If you are dealing with disclosure requests you are unsure you should be sharing, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional who can provide guidance based on the specific circumstances of the estate’s assets and administration. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid any consequences adversely affecting the estate.

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