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Avoiding conflict in Massachusetts estate administration

Massachusetts executors and trustees have the sometimes unenviable task of ensuring that all of the beneficiaries and heirs are satisfied. This can be a difficult task when emotions are running high. Avoiding conflict in estate administration may not always be easy, but there are ways to diffuse confrontations that could jeopardize the process and, ultimately, the inheritances of the heirs and beneficiaries.

Families are often wonderfully complex. They may rally around one member when he or she is being attacked from the outside, but inside the family circle can be a much different story. Those same personality conflicts can surface when a key family member passes away — especially when a large inheritance is at stake.

Keeping family members from engaging in confrontations that could lead to costly legal actions may take some finesse on the part of executors, trustees and other advisers. Sometimes, all family members need is a reminder that the deceased wanted everyone to be taken care of after his or her death. Other times, emotions could be diffused by encouraging compromise so that everyone walks away satisfied. Further, the heirs and beneficiaries may need to realize that making their point or “winning” is not as important as their relationships and receiving the inheritance their loved one intended.

However, some confrontations are unavoidable no matter what is said or done to keep them at bay. During those times, estate administration can grind to a halt while the confrontations are worked through. It could take the introduction of additional outside parties to help quell those conflicts in a way that does not delay the administration of a Massachusetts estate or greatly reduce the value of the estate in the process.

Source:, Avoid Family Feuds, Susan Hartley and Donna LeBlanc, Feb. 7, 2014


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