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Can an executor do anything they want?

La Salle, IL |

The executor per the will is to receive 1/2 estate, and the three siblings each 1/6. The executor says the relative felt one of the other siblings deserved more, so he gave that one all the jewelry and personal items he/she wanted. He then took what he wanted. Now there is very little left for the remaining two. A list of personal assets I recently received, is very limited and inaccurate. Any recommmendations on how to approach this. As far as these two siblings are concerned, they deserve what they have taken, so there is no use trying to discuss it with them.

The "he" in the in the first two sentences refers to the executor. The ":relative" refers to the person who's estate is in question. The will is very "simple" leaving it to be divided as in sentence #1. It does give the executor sole power to buy sell or borrow against the estate if needed to settle it

Attorney Answers 2


  1. I don't know, of course, precisely what the will states. It would seem, however, that the executor may have overstepped his bounds. In strict answer to your question, no, an executor cannot do anything he wants. Usually, the will will state the powers of the executor. State law will supply additional conditions that usually limit those powers in a variety of ways.

    The fact that the siblings believe they "deserve what they have taken" is, as you recognize, of no moment. There is no cosmic definition of what one deserves (or, if there is, it is beyond our ability to recognize), so what they should receive in this case is precisely what the will states.

    You should consult with an attorney in your state as to whether it makes sense, under the circumstances to seek to remove the executor for improvidence or other cause.

    Please note that I am a NY attorney and cannot advise you as to your state's laws.

    Good luck.


  2. You should get with a local attorney and have them review this issue as soon as possible. In general, the Executor is bound to do exactly what the will states, and he has no power to distribute assets in a different manner unless all the beneficiaries agree to the same. In this instance, I would argue the Executor's gift of additional assets to a beneficiary is a personal decision of the Executor and those gifts should be deducted from the Executor's share, but as always, the law of your state may be different.

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