What an Executor Can and Cannot Do | RMO Lawyers
— Executors cannot do things which are contrary to the benefit of heirs, beneficiaries, and the estate. This means if you suspect an executor is withholding your inheritance distributions, you would have the right to sue the estate, or litigate to suspend, remove and replace the executor.
What is an Executor of Will or Administrator of Estate?
The executor of will or administrator of estate is the individual responsible for handling and completing the probate process for the decedent’s estate. Commonly, a parent may name their oldest or most responsible child the executor of their last will and testament. As such, it is that child’s responsibility to handle the estate’s probate process, including paying debts using estate assets, selling estate property, and distributing assets to heirs and beneficiaries in accordance with the last will and testament.
What are the executor responsibilities to beneficiaries?
Being named the executor of a will brings with it a wide variety of important duties that must be carried out to meet the wishes of the decedent. If you have been named as an executor, here are several of the functions you may need to undertake: (for more info, read “The Executor of Will Checklist”)
– Locate the will.
– Retain an attorney.
– Identify and protect the deceased person’s assets.
– Review the will and keep its beneficiaries informed.
– Notify all other appropriate parties.
– Continue paying bills as needed.
– Start distributing assets of the estate.
– File papers to close out the estate.
Can an executor also be a beneficiary?
Yes. It’s quite common for an executor to be a beneficiary. Consider when one spouse passes away, the living spouse of the decedent is frequently named executor. It’s also common for children to be named both beneficiaries and executors of wills/trustees of family trusts.
What if the beneficiaries cannot find or locate the executor of a will?
If the beneficiaries and heirs of an estate cannot locate the executor of the estate, or if the executor dies, the local probate court will appoint someone to be the executor. The court will issue “letters testamentary,” which document authorizes the executor to act on behalf of and in the best interest of the estate. Note, a living executor can also be disqualified from their role if they are incapacitated, convicted of a felony, or express what the court or beneficiaries believe to be a conflict of interest.
What if the executor cannot locate a beneficiary?
If an executor cannot locate a beneficiary, the courts will need to be convinced that the beneficiary should be deemed deceased. Before the court will do so the executor most show and document that they’ve done the following:
– Reached out to any living spouses or family members of the beneficiary
– Sought the beneficiary’s last known mailing address
– Reached out to previous employers
– Reached out to other individuals in the community
– If the executor, nor the probate court representatives, are able to locate the beneficiary after a set time period, then the missing beneficiary is treated as if they passed away — and their inheritance assets are distributed fairly to the other heirs and beneficiaries.
Can an executor override a beneficiary?
The executor cannot change the last will and testament. It is the executor’s express duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries and estate. If an heir or beneficiary feels that the executor is not fulfilling the decedent’s intent, as dictated by the will, then it is the heir’s right to contest the will and pursue litigation, in order to get what they feel is fair, and intended by the decedent.
Can I sue the executor of a will or administrator of the estate?
Yes, an executor or administrator can be sued, just like anyone else. However, if what you are looking to do is challenge the distributions of a will or trust, then you will need to contest the will or trust via probate or trust litigation.
When do I contact a probate lawyer?
Contact a probate lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you contact a probate lawyer, the more they can do to protect your rights and get your rightful inheritance.
Have questions? At RMO, we protect people like you everyday.
Call (424) 320-9444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About RMO Lawyers, LLP
RMO LLP serves clients in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Orange County, San Diego, Kansas City, Miami, and communities throughout California, Florida, Missouri and Kansas. Our founder, Scott E. Rahn has been named “Top 100 – Trust and Estate Litigation” by SuperLawyers, Trusts and Estates Litigator of the Year, and Best Lawyers in America for Litigation – Trusts and Estates. For a free consultation, call (424) 320-9444 or visit: