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.

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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 hello@rmolawyers.com

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:

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21 Responses

  1. EstimatingONE DiscoveringTHREE says:

    Thank you, this was very concise

  2. Nadia N. Contreras says:

    What if the lawyer as well as the family that are involved with this, are all trying to cover the truth about a particular amount of money that was sent to an address of the person made the will? Is your number and conciliation really free?

  3. L.Theresa Yee says:

    Thank you; appreciate your very educated Executor responsibility;-info

  4. Robert Deradourian says:

    I have a true story that is unbelievable except the documents say I'm telling truth and what my brother has done is unbelievably insane.

  5. Shannon M says:

    This is great info & I appreciate you for sharing it.

  6. Lorraine Corso says:

    The executor can not distribute anything without access or court orders. I am an executor and an heir ad right now I got 2 sisters thinking I'm stealing stuff.

  7. Nueve Condez says:

    Good day, Thank you in advance for reading this.
    My name is Nueve, from the Philippines, the partner of the deceased James N Roe, and he mentioned me before that when he die, I will contact his son James Earl Roe, husband of Darci Roe, because I'm one of the beneficiaries of his last will and testament. James does last May 1 2021 due to Covid complication. He told me to contact his son when he die, The sad thing is, his son blocked me on James's FB and even his wife blocked me too, I never did something wrong to them. Why they do this to me, for more than 6 years of our relationship, James has shown me nothing but love,kindness and respect, why the couple did these to me? James do not deserve this existence and do not want this to happen.
    My question is, how can I request a copy of the last will and testament? Is there a way online to search for it? I do not even know the name of the attorney he mentioned before whom he made an arrangement of his will. Please help me. Thanks in advance for your advice

  8. Nauseaus says:

    Executor Siblings who attempt to clear off with all assests or majority are scumbags, '''sue their ass in court'' they can go to prison for dishonesty and fraud – in UK make sure as beneficiary you get copy of Inventory and the accounting for that inventory which you are perfectly entitled to request – and to all parents, sometimes the child that is crawling around you bad mouthing the other siblings is very often the deceiver, good idea to leave all siblings to be executors and not just one who may be a greedy self entitled jackass.

  9. Betty Gilley says:

    My ex husband has passed away, we have a son together who is 35yrs of age he is a special needs child. My ex and I were divorced in 1996. He has been living with a woman since 96, not married and the last 3 or 4 yrs have been sleeping separately and not acting as a couple.
    My son loved his dad very much and just in the last couple of years they have become closer than the yrs prier.
    Jimmy had a Will and testament leaving our son 1.00 which is fine but I thinking the Will has been forged. The first page that I have a picture of looks like his handwriting but I have a copy of the Will and the signatures on the first page and pages after doesn't Match. And of course leaving his female friend and her daughter everything

  10. Larry Garcia says:

    Question my Mother has not passed away my Brother sold her home will not show the financials and is using her pension and social security benefits And promised to give me money to move out of the family house and then Said he couldn't after I left in good faith. And I had taken care of her for 8 years in which i bought her food and cared for her for 8 years. What can i do ?

  11. DaisyMae Shybu says:

    It's been over 2 years and the executor has cut us off and has not followed the will to pass along distribution money. What can we do?

  12. Donna Sanchez says:

    Sorry, I left out some info. There is no Will, but I am told that one will be made up and the deceased parents signature will be forged. I would rather not be in this mess, but I'm a gluten for punishment, plus I love the law.

  13. Donna Sanchez says:

    What if there is not a Will? Is a Legal Doc Legal, "IF" ones wife works for an attorney, makes up the "paperwork" needed to appoint her husband executor, then take this document to his 3 brother's home's to sign this document and without knowing exactly what they just signed? I live in Texas and have been kept out of the loop of what's been going on and now my help is needed. I know a lot of laws in Texas but even I know not to sign such document in my home without an attorney present to explain to me what I am signing and without sustaining a copy for my records.

  14. MARISA GONZALEZ says:

    Thank you for the info. It confirms more of the research of my legal standing. The first court-appointed executor of the estate of which I am the sole beneficiary filed a fraudulent will contest against me even though he was not related to the deceased party. I was opposed to him being appointed, yet the court disregarded and dismissed my request. The professional fiduciary and his attorneys, used his last name to fool and undermine the court. His name is the same as the deceased party, although there is no relation. The executor/professional fiduciary and his attorneys have been committing fraud and perjury against me since 2014 by filing and maintaining fraudulent claims and cases against me with the intention of having me convicted for alleged crimes. Riverside County has been denying my rights and discriminating against me since 2013. I won my case, yet Riverside continues to persecute me while so many officials ignore the injustice and the crimes that are being committed against me. Please help for the sake of justice and equality.

  15. Nitz Confidently Beautiful 50s says:

    I live in the Philippines and I am a beneficiary of CPG Trust. My sister is the excutor of the Last Will and Testament in which assets were put in a trust. 8 years had passed and the executor is not giving the 50% of my share. The executor is not also giving any comprehensive accounting of the distribution and everything.

  16. Judy Ann Hunt says:

    Thanks

  17. Eleven shandrea Angel says:

    3907 s Tyler amarillo

  18. Eleven shandrea Angel says:

    My grandma house 3907 s tyler

  19. Ruth Iris says:

    Thank you very much… words I needed to hear…

  20. jay walker says:

    narrator if you live in a small town anywhere in the usa do not use a lawyer in the same town if there are greedy conflicting siblings because a lawyer in a small town can have undue influence on other lawyers of that town and he or she lawyer can call the other lawyer on the phone and make private deals on estate afffairs and make decisions not to the clients best interest on estate issues hire a lawyer from another area county to help with conflicting siblings on estate issues

  21. DLX Infinite says:

    Thank you.

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