Beware of the Greed Syndrome

In the previous articles (reference September and October), we discussed the estate of individuals that have amassed substantial wealth and how executors and beneficiaries react to the exposure to such wealth.

An executor or executrix of an estate is an individual appointed to administer the last will and testament of a deceased person.[1](IRS Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators – an indispensable aid to Executors.) The executor is appointed either by the testator of the will (the individual who makes the will) or by a court. In cases wherein there was no prior appointment, the court will appoint an administrator or administratrix. The executor’s primary duty is to carry out the instructions to manage the affairs and wishes of the deceased. Being an executor is an enormous responsibility where potential hazards and complications may arise[2], so employing a lawyer specializing in estate law and a private investigator or forensic accountant would be beneficial in some circumstances.

The responsible of the executor is to collect the assets, identify and pay all the debts of the deceased, and then distribute the remaining assets to the heirs or other beneficiaries. The executor has a fiduciary duty to the estate of the deceased.
An executor is a significant person, and the appointment of such should not be taken lightly. The characteristics of the executor should not include the elements of the “greed syndrome” that follow:[3]
  1. Overly self-centered behavior – me, me, me,
  2. Envious – the desire for the possessions of others,
  3. Lack of empathy – no caring for other feelings,
  4. Never satisfied – lack the ability to share,
  5. Expert in manipulation – charming and taking credit for the work of others,
  6. Accomplishments in the short run – satisfy their needs, and
  7. No limits when it comes to material needs – unable to maintain boundaries.

People suffering from the greed syndrome need to find ways to move from egoistic strivings to more generous ones. This means stepping back and looking at other options open to them rather than mindlessly following their cravings for more. Greedy people need to recognize that we can only be prosperous if we can give. Taking this generous route requires persistence, patience, humility, courage, and commitment. Not doing so, however, will be at their peril.[4] Often setbacks, such as health issues or serious interpersonal problems, propel them to confront their addiction to greed.

To keep the pending estate healthy and transparent, the person with the Power of Attorney (POA) and later the executor should be transparent as much as possible with the heirs and other beneficiaries to keep the suspicion of impropriety from surfacing. This transparency will go a long way to trusting the activities of the POA and the Executor.

We offer a free 20-minute consult. If your law firm requires a private investigator or forensic accountant regarding an Inheritance fraud matter, contact Chief Investigator Edmond Martin of Sage Investigations, LLC at 512-659-3179 or email him at Visit our website at Click to read about our team and their CVs.


[1] IRS Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators – an indispensable aid to Executors.



[4] Manfred Kets De Vries – Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development & Organizational Change