Can an executor override a beneficiary?
In this article, you’ll learn:
Let’s dig in.
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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?
Related: Executor vs Administrator
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:
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
An executor is a person who is in charge of distributing your estate.
An executor gets named in your will.
An executor handles:
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:
Yes, a beneficiary of a will can be an executor as well.
A beneficiary of a will needs to be someone who is:
There are some limitations on whether a beneficiary can be an executor.
You cannot name the following beneficiaries as an executor of an estate:
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.
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
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:
If an executor tries to override a will, you are allowed to:
Related: Penalty For Stealing From An Estate
A will does not override beneficiary designations.
Beneficiary destination supersedes a will’s instructions.
These accounts with named beneficiary designations are assets like:
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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.
There are two scenarios to answer this question:
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:
Because of these requirements, a will cannot be changed after a testator has passed away.
Yes, an executor can evict a beneficiary.
An executor can evict a beneficiary by:
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.
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:
If a will is not followed, you have the ability to petition the court to replace the executor.
Related: Power Of Attorney vs Guardianship
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.
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
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.
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.
When an executor overrides a beneficiary, you need to protect your inheritance.
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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.
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