Does Your Executor Have Any Conflicts of Interest?

This quiz is designed to help you assess whether your executor may have or be perceived as having a conflict of interest in fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities.

To start give yourself 100 points!

Gifts and Bequests

  1. Is your executor the sole beneficiary, with no gifts or bequests?
    1. If yes, keep all your points.
    2. If no, proceed to the next question.
  2. Is your Executor the sole beneficiary of the residual of your estate with gifts and bequests of fixed amounts?
    1. If yes, take away 10 points if there is a possibility your assets are less than your gifts and bequests, otherwise, keep all your points.
    2. If no, proceed to the next question.
  3. Is your Executor the sole beneficiary of the residual of your estate with gifts and bequests that may fluctuate with the market or are a percentage of the estate?
    1. If yes, take away 20 points.
    2. If no proceed to the next section.

Sole executor / multiple beneficiaries

  1. Is your Executor responsible to multiple beneficiaries including themselves?
    1. If the Executor has open and transparent communication with all beneficiaries, keep all your points.
    2. If the Executor may develop communication issues or challenges with the beneficiaries, over the distribution of the estate take away 20 points.
    3. If your Executor currently has communication issues with the beneficiaries take away 50 points.
  2. Is your Executor responsible to multiple beneficiaries excluding themselves?
    1. If the Executor has open and transparent communication with all the beneficiaries, keep all your points.
    2. If there is a lack of communication between your Executor and the beneficiaries they may perceive a conflict of interest if the Executor is drawing a fee. Take away 10 points.

Multiple Executors

These questions assume all of the executors are related.

  1. Are the executors jointly appointed and therefore must agree before taking action?
    1. If yes, take away 20 points. It is possible that not all decisions will have unanimous agreement. Repeated disagreement may lead to a perception of a conflict of interest.
    2. If no, proceed to the next question.
  2. Are the executors jointly and severally appointed and therefore each may undertake actions on their own?
    1. If yes, and the current relationship between them is stable and there is open and transparent communication, keep all your points.
    2. If yes, and the current relationship is open but there have been disagreements in the past, take away 20 points.
    3. If yes, and the current relationship between them is broken, take away 50 points.

Results:

100 Points – Congratulations, your current will does not appear to include any actual or perceived conflict of interests. Reviewing the selection of an Executor should be performed on a regular basis for possible changes in circumstances.

Less than 100 points – All or portions of your will may require updating. The time needed to wind-up an estate can be influenced by any conflicts of interest. The more severe the conflict the longer the time and perhaps, it may create family dynamics that you did not anticipate.

Consult with your legal counsel on ways to minimize potential conflicts of interest so that your Executor can perform their fiduciary responsibilities.

If you identified a potential conflict of interest and decided not to change your will, additional communication, in writing or through family meetings, could have an impact on the Executor and beneficiaries, as your estate is wound-up.