Communicating with executors

Ashley Rowthorn Practical guidance for good legacy administration

Communicating with Executors of estates where a charity is fortunate enough to be left a gift in a will should be straightforward. Yet in reality there are pitfalls and the legacy officer must proceed with utmost care, sensitivity, tact and respect.

Some 500 charities in the UK regularly receive gifts in Wills, and amongst these there is a growing body of largely unwritten practice on how best to communicate with Executors.

So we have compiled some guidance to help you navigate the legacy administration process, balancing the need to respect the wishes of the donor and treating Executors with the care and respect they deserve.

This guidance is based on the experience of our consultants, who are some of the most experienced people in the field and, due to the number of charities that each has worked with, are very aware of the need to balance expediency with tact and sensitivity when communicating with Executors.

We hope that our guidance document may be useful to charities beyond those that we work with and to others interested in achieving best practice, such as trainers, charity managers and charity trustees.

When communicating with Executors and family members, we must reflect:

  • Sensitivity following the death of the benefactor.
  • An awareness of the considerable time that administering an estate can take.
  • The burden of administration felt by non-professionals.
  • A balance in communication style and timing between ensuring that the charity receives what was intended in the will, building a warm relationship with the family and reflecting positively the work of the charity.

We have noticed a number of specific issues and occasions in day-to-day legacy administration where an inappropriate or poorly-worded communication could cause offence and also tarnish the charity’s reputation. By committing these examples to print and sharing what Legacy Link consultants believe to be best practice; we hope that they may be minimised.

For a free copy of the full guidance document which covers issues such as communicating with executors, issues during the estate administration, and ongoing correspondence, please email vicki@legacy-link.co.uk or use the contact form on our website http://legacy-link.co.uk/contact-us.