Can An Executor Override A Beneficiary?

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Can An Executor Override A Beneficiary - Can An Executor Override A Will - Does A Will Override A Beneficiary - Does A Beneficiary Override Will

Can an executor override a beneficiary?

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • when an executor can override a beneficiary
  • when a beneficiary overrides a will
  • if the executor has to follow the will
  • what happens if an executor does not follow the will
  • what happens when an executor refuses to pay a beneficiary

Let’s dig in. 

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Can An Executor Override A Beneficiary

An executor can override a beneficiary as long as they are:

Sometimes a beneficiary’s wishes contradict these scenarios

In this case, an executor can override a beneficiary. 

An executor is legally obligated to follow the instructions in the will. 

But sometimes the beneficiaries don’t agree with the will’s instructions. 

When this happens, the executor can override a beneficiary. 

For example, let’s say that you are a beneficiary and the will says to sell your parent’s home

But you want to keep their home for sentimental value. 

Maybe you want to just keep it or you want to fix it up and move in. 

If the instructions say to sell the home, the executor can override the beneficiary. 

Another scenario is when the executor needs to sell the house to pay off the estate’s debts

Even if you want to keep the house, the executor will override the beneficiary and sell it

This is because they are obligated to repay debts from the estate. 

And they have to sell the property to raise money to repay those debts

In this case, the executor has to override a beneficiary who wants to keep the house. 

But what if the executor is not following the will’s instructions? 

More on this below.

Related: Executor vs Administrator

What Is A Beneficiary Of A Will?

A beneficiary of a will is someone who is named in the will to receive property from the estate. 

A beneficiary of a will can be:

  • any person (spouse, partners, family, friends, etc.)
  • charities and non-profits
  • revocable living trusts

You can name anyone to be the beneficiary of a will. 

This includes people, organizations, businesses, or trusts. 

Or any combination of these beneficiaries. 

You can divide your property up to beneficiaries by percentages

Or you can give certain beneficiaries of a will specific assets

Related: What An Executor Cannot Do

What Is A Executor Of A Will?

An executor is a person who is in charge of distributing your estate.

An executor gets named in your will.

An executor handles:

  • paying off creditors
  • appraising your property
  • distributing property to the beneficiaries

Can An Executor Be A Beneficiary Of A Will?

Yes, an executor can be a beneficiary of a will and still perform executor duties. 

It’s very common for an executor to be a beneficiary of a will. 

A couple of scenarios where an executor can be a beneficiary of a will are:

  • a surviving spouse is an executor and beneficiary
  • one of the children is an executor and beneficiary of a will

Can A Beneficiary Of A Will Be An Executor?

Yes, a beneficiary of a will can be an executor as well

A beneficiary of a will needs to be someone who is:

  • organized
  • trustworthy
  • diligent
  • honest
  • good at communicating

There are some limitations on whether a beneficiary can be an executor. 

You cannot name the following beneficiaries as an executor of an estate:

  • minor children
  • people residing out of state
  • felons

If you think there is too much internal family drama, you can pick a third-party executor. 

For example, you can hire a probate lawyer to be the executor of your estate. 

Your wishes are more likely to get executed by a neutral third-party executor. 

Related: Executor Not Communicating With Beneficiaries

Does A Beneficiary Override A Will?

A beneficiary designation overrides a will.  

A beneficiary designation is when you name someone as a beneficiary on things like:

Let’s say that you create a will and then you divorce and remarry

And you even update your will after you remarry to update your beneficiary to your new spouse. 

But you forget to update your 401k and life insurance with a new beneficiary. 

And your ex-spouse is still the beneficiary on those accounts

If you pass away, their beneficiary designation overrides a will

Your new spouse may be the named beneficiary of those accounts in your will. 

But your ex-spouse still has beneficiary designation on those accounts. 

And, in this case, a beneficiary overrides a will

And your ex will get everything from those accounts when you pass away. 

Related: Consequences Of Not Probating A Will

Can An Executor Override A Will?

We know that an executor can override a beneficiary. 

But can an executor override a will? 

An executor cannot override a will

An executor has a legal obligation to follow the will’s instructions. 

And there are consequences for the executor not following the will. 

Some consequences of an executor overriding the will are that:

  • the executor has to repay any financial losses to the beneficiaries
  • the courts will issue a court order they have to follow
  • the courts may remove the executor and replace them

If an executor tries to override a will, you are allowed to:

  • petition the courts to replace the executor
  • file a lawsuit against the executor for not following the will

Related: Penalty For Stealing From An Estate

Does A Will Override A Beneficiary?

A will does not override beneficiary designations. 

Beneficiary destination supersedes a will’s instructions

These accounts with named beneficiary designations are assets like:

  •  life insurance
  • annuities
  • retirement accounts

Let’s say that your will states that your spouse should inherit all assets

But your beneficiary designations name your children as the beneficiaries. 

In this case, the will does not override the beneficiary designations. 

And the children will receive your retirement accounts, annuities, and life insurance

And your spouse will receive nothing unless they are designated as a beneficiary. 

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

Does A Will Override A Beneficiary On A Bank Account?

A will does not override a beneficiary on a bank account. 

Bank accounts have beneficiary designations

And a will does not override a beneficiary designation on a bank account. 

If the beneficiary is designated on a bank account, they will receive those funds

No matter what instructions the will provides to the executor. 

This is because a will does not override a beneficiary designation on a bank account. 

Related: What Happens If A Will Is Not Probated

Can An Executor Change A Will?

An executor cannot change a will

It’s the executor’s legal responsibility to follow the will’s instructions. 

And the executor has to probate the original will

The original will has the:

Because of this, an executor cannot change a will

The executor has to report to the probate courts about their management of the estate

And the judge will make sure that the executor follows the will

Making it impossible for an executor to change a will. 

Related: How To Avoid Probate

Does An Executor Have To Follow The Will?

Yes, an executor does have to follow the will

Executors are legally obligated to follow the will’s instructions

If the executor does not follow the will, you can either:

And this is also true if a beneficiary wants the executor to override a will. 

An executor can override a beneficiary if they ask the executor to not follow the will. 

They have to follow the original will when there is not a deed of variation

It is the executor’s duty to:

  • follow the will
  • act in the best interests of the beneficiaries
  • carry out the probate process

The executor of a will can change the will if they have a deed of variation signed by every heir. 

The executor of a will cannot change a will to reduce your inheritance

Related: Power of Attorney

Can A Beneficiary Be Removed From A Will?

A beneficiary can be removed from a will by the testator. 

A testator is a person who creates the will. 

But a beneficiary cannot be removed from a will by the executor

An executor can override a beneficiary, but they cannot remove them from the will.

Can A Will Be Changed Without The Executor Knowing?

There are two scenarios to answer this question:

  • the testator is alive and wants to change the will without the executor knowing
  • the testator has passed away

If the testator is alive, the will can be changed without the executor knowing

The testator does not have to inform the executor of changes made to the will. 

So, yes, a will can be changed without the executor knowing. 

But after the testator has passed away, the will cannot be changed

This is because of the requirements of a will for it to be a valid will

For a will to be valid, it must:

  • have a wet signature from the testator
  • be signed by two witnesses
  • be notarized

Because of these requirements, a will cannot be changed after a testator has passed away. 

Related: What If The Executor Does Not Probate The Will

Can An Executor Evict A Beneficiary?

Yes, an executor can evict a beneficiary. 

An executor can evict a beneficiary by:

  • evicting them if they have a lease agreement and grounds for eviction
  • evicting them when there’s not a lease with an Unlawful Detainer

Can an executor override a beneficiary if they want to stay in the house?

Yes, the executor can override a beneficiary and not let them live there anymore. 

Related: Difference Between Executor and Trustee

What Happens If A Will Is Not Followed?

If a will is not followed, the executor can be removed by the courts. 

The courts are able to replace the executor with a new one. 

But you have to prove that the executor:

  • is not following the law
  • is not following the will
  • is not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities 

If a will is not followed, you have the ability to petition the court to replace the executor. 

Related: Power Of Attorney vs Guardianship

What Supersedes A Will?

Beneficiary accounts and property held jointly supersede a will. 

This is true even if you name a different beneficiary in your will.

Beneficiary designations supersede a will. 

Does A Will Supercede A Beneficiary?

A will does not supersede a beneficiary designation. 

But a will does allow an executor to override a beneficiary. 

Without a beneficiary designation, the will’s instructions get followed. 

If there are beneficiary designations, then the will does not supersede those.

Related: Conservatorship vs Guardianship

What If The Executor Of Will Refuses To Pay Beneficiary?

When the executor of a will refuses to pay beneficiaries, they can get replaced. 

The courts will appoint a new executor and remove the executor refusing to pay beneficiaries.

But the courts will not remove an executor if payments are delayed but not refused.  

Does An Executor Of A Will Have The Final Say?

If an executor is following the will, then the executor of a will has the final say. 

They are legally obligated to follow the will’s instructions. 

Even if the beneficiaries don’t agree with the decedent’s decisions. 

So, yes, the executor of a will does have the final say. 

But if it pertains to can the executor of a will take everything, then they don’t. 

They cannot change how the assets in the estate get distributed.

What To Do If An Executor Overrides A Beneficiary

When an executor overrides a beneficiary, you need to protect your inheritance. 

To get access to the best probate attorneys to represent you, fill out the form below.

We have the experience needed to ensure that your rights are protected.

This means that you don’t wrongfully lose assets that belong to you.

We also make sure that that the executor follows the will.

And that they don’t try to take everything from you. 

Or mismanage the estate, causing you to lose everything. 

This means you don’t get raked over the coals financially.

After you fill out the form below, we will set up your free consultation.

Talk soon.

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