What Can an Executor do?

Estate distribution can be an emotionally charged and difficult time, especially if the deceased has a large family or complex estate. To ensure that their estate is distributed according to their wishes, the testator will name an executor in their will to manage their assets and supervise the distribution process. Executors can be the spouse of the deceased, one of their children, a close family friend, or another close family member. While executors play a crucial role in estate distribution, there are limitations to their capabilities and jurisdiction. As experts in estates and personal planning, the team at Sidhu & Associates knows how complex wills and estate distribution can be. That is why we have provided some information to help you understand what an executor can do and what they cannot.

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What is an Executor Allowed to do?

Executors are tasked with a complex and challenging role, especially if they are overseeing the distribution of large estates or dealing with many listed beneficiaries. While an executor’s role is crucial, it is important for all parties to understand where their jurisdiction ends and begins. An executor’s abilities and responsibilities include:

  • Managing the assets and property of the testator until they are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will.
  • Paying the debts, taxes, and other ongoing expenses of the deceased including funeral fees.
  • Supervising the distribution of the testator’s estate as outlined in the will.
  • Validating the will in probate court (if this is required).

While the executor must follow the wishes outlined in the will, they may have the power to make certain decisions if the testator did not clearly express their wishes for certain elements of their estate. It is important to note that an executor is legally bound to continue dealing with estate assets until discharged by court order as there are potential repercussions if they do follow through to the end.

What is an Executor not Allowed to do?

While executors are responsible for many elements of estate distribution, there are limits to their abilities. In most cases, an executor cannot:

  • Sign the will on behalf of the testator if it was not signed before they passed away.
  • Execute the will before the testator has passed away.
  • Change any of the beneficiaries listed in the will.
  • Stop or impede beneficiaries from contesting the will.

Should any beneficiaries feel that an executor is not performing their duties in a sufficient or fair manner, they can request the assistance of the court or their independent legal counsel. If the executor is found to be biased, unfair, or otherwise ill-suited for these responsibilities, the court may remove them and appoint a new administrator for the estate.

To learn more about wills, estates, and personal planning, get in touch with the experts at Sidhu & Associates. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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