Can An Executor Decide Who Gets What?

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Can An Executor Decide Who Gets What - What Power Does An Executor Of A Will Have - What Does The Executor Of A Will Do

Can an executor decide who gets what? 

If you’re a beneficiary, you may be nervous about what powers the executor has over your inheritance. 

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • what power does an executor of a will have
  • what an executor cannot do
  • does the executor of a will have the final say
  • can an executor override a beneficiary 
  • contesting an executor of a will if needed

Let’s dig in.

When the courts appoint an administrator to an estate, they can choose anyone. This includes creditors or third-party companies. Meaning you and your family lose all control over the estate.

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Can An Executor Decide Who Gets What?

No, an executor cannot decide who gets what. 

An executor’s job is to follow the instructions in the will. 

And distribute the assets how the decedent described in the will.

There is a scenario where an executor can decide who gets what. 

That’s when the testator did not give clear direction on how to distribute assets. 

Then, the executor can decide who gets what from the estate. 

For example, let’s say your parents owned three rental properties. 

And you have two siblings. 

Maybe the will just states, “split assets equally between beneficiaries.”

In this case, it’s up to the executor to decide who gets what. 

This can be:

  • who gets which property
  • should the properties get sold and then split up
  • should the executor sell one property for debts and split the other two

There are numerous combinations for how an executor can decide who gets what. 

Related: Penalty For Stealing From An Estate

What Power Does An Executor Of A Will Have?

Let’s talk about what power does an executor of a will have.

The powers that an executor of a will has are:

  • managing property until it gets distributed
  • distributing the assets to creditors and heirs
  • collecting debts owed to the estate
  • paying off debts and taxes
  • selling property
  • hiring a probate lawyer

An executor also has the power to NOT be the executor. 

Even if they are named in the will to be the executor, they can decide not to. 

In this case, the courts will have to appoint an administrator of the estate

Related: Can The Executor Of A Will Take Everything

What Is The Executor Of A Will?

An executor of a will is the person who administers the will according to the will’s instructions. 

An executor’s job is to distribute the assets to the intended beneficiaries.

Related: Consequences Of Not Probating A Will 

What Does The Executor Of A Will Do?

What does the executor of a will do? 

And what are the executor’s responsibilities

Their responsibilities depend on how complex your estate is. 

An executor of a will:

  • gets copies of your death certificate
  • locates your last will and testament
  • files your will with the probate courts
  • notify the beneficiaries of the will
  • take inventory of the estate
  • notify banks, insurance, government agencies of the death
  • notify creditors of the death
  • use estate funds to settle outstanding debts
  • sell property as needed to pay off debts
  • maintain property until the estate is settled
  • file income taxes
  • make court appearances on behalf of the estate

Related: Difference Between Executor and Trustee

Can An Executor Change A Will?

Can an executor of a will decide who gets what by changing a will?

An executor cannot change a will. 

It is the executor’s responsibility to act in the best interest of the estate and heirs. 

The executor cannot change the will. 

They have to follow the will and distribute the estate per the will’s instructions. 

Related: How Long Do You Have To Probate A Will?

What An Executor Cannot Do

You’ve been wondering, “Can an executor decide who gets what?”

So, you’re probably wondering what an executor cannot do. 

So that you know what your rights are as an heir. 

What an executor cannot do is:

  • not follow the will
  • breach fiduciary duty
  • fail to act
  • self-deal
  • embezzle property 
  • neglect the estate
  • not be transparent with the beneficiaries
  • communicate with the beneficiaries

There are many things that an executor cannot do. 

This is a general overview of what an executor cannot do. 

For a full list, check out what an executor cannot do.

An executor cannot stop a beneficiary from contesting the will, either. 

So, if the executor is trying to decide who gets what you can contest it. 

This will get the judge involved so that the will gets distributed properly.  

Related: What If The Executor Does Not Probate The Will

Can An Executor Override A Beneficiary?

An executor cannot decide who gets what. 

But an executor can override a beneficiary as long as they are following the will.

An executor’s fiduciary duty is to the beneficiaries of the will. 

They have to distribute the estate per the will’s instructions. 

And that means overriding a beneficiary if it does not align with the will’s instructions.  

Related: Disadvantages Of A Trust

Does The Executor Of A Will Have The Final Say?

The executor of a will has the final say if they are following the will’s instructions.

But if you’re wondering, “can an executor decide who gets what.”

Then, no, they do not have the final say in the matter. 

An executor is legally obligated to follow the will. 

Even if the heirs disagree with the instructions in the will. 

If they are trying to decide who gets what and that’s not in the will, then they don’t have the final say. 

You should reach out to an estate lawyer if they are not following the will. 

Related: Do Wills Have To Be Probated

Contesting An Executor Of A Will If There's A Dispute

You might be faced with an executor who is trying to decide who gets what. 

In that case, you should consider contesting the executor of a will. 

The heirs can hire a will lawyer to validate:

  • the will
  • the executor who was named
  • the executor’s actions

If an executor tried to decide who gets what, the estate planning lawyer will petition the courts. 

And the judge will verify that the will is being followed by the executor. 

Or, they will replace the executor of the will. 

What To Do: Can An Executor Decide Who Gets What

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