Executor ≠ beneficiary.
An executor merely 'executes' the testator's wishes upon the testator's death. The executor must execute according to the directives of the will unless the directives violate law. Any directive that violates law is not valid.
Keep in mind that, as a surviving spouse, you DO have some protections.
In Michigan, a surviving spouse is entitled to elect against her spouse’s will and take a statutory share under MCL 700.2202. This share is equal to “1/2 of the sum or share that would have passed to the spouse had the testator died intestate, reduced by 1/2 of the value of all property derived by the spouse from the decedent by any means other than testate or intestate succession upon the decedent’s death.”
This reply is made in response to a question posted on a public message board. This response is for general information only. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship. You have not hired the responding attorney and the responding attorney has not agreed to represent you.
You do not have any legal right to be the executor of your husband's will. The testator is free to designate whomever they want and typically the court follows such designation unless there is some other issue (e.g. designated executor is a minor, designated executor predeceased, etc.). But, a qualified executor is bound by the fiduciary duty to handle the probate process according to the laws of MI. This includes paying all the valid debts of the estate and distributing property according to the decedent's Will. So, you are "at the son's mercy" to the extent that he could be slow or difficult in handling the estate, but he is bound to comply with all valid terms of the Will. MI also specifically allows a wife some unique dower rights and others. If you believe something underhanded is occurring or just want to better understand your options as a spouse, I suggest you contact a local probate attorney when the need arises.
You have the rights spelled out in the will. The identity of the executor does not affect your rights.
In Michigan, the Executor (or Personal Representative) nominated in the Will has priority to act as Executor before any other persons. This means that your husband's son has first priority to act as Personal Representative. The role of the Personal Representative is to administer the Will and follow the terms of the Will. Therefore, your husband's son must distribute all assets according to your husband's Will. If he does not, he is in violation of his duty and the probate court can and hold him accountable.
As a surviving spouse in Michigan, you are entitled to certain rights under Michigan's version of the Probate Code (EPIC). You should talk to an attorney about "spousal elections." In a nutshell, you will be entitled to a certain share of the probate estate. Keep in mind that any account or asset that is owned jointly or has a beneficiary will not be part of the probate estate. This can get into very technical and specific details. I would advise you to talk to an attorney now rather than waiting around until something happens to your husband.
In addition to what everyone else has already said, you do not say anything about how any of the assets are titled. The Will may or may not pertain to ANY of your husband's assets. Anything that is owned jointly by the two of you, will pass to you automatically, upon your husband's death. The same is true of anything that designates you as a beneficiary. So if all of your assets are jointly held, or you are named as beneficiary, then the son's appointment as Personal Representative is irrelevant.
Assuming there ARE assets that are titled in your husband's name alone, without any beneficiaries named, the Will would apply to THOSE assets. You do not say how the Will leaves such assets. Who the PR is, is secondary to who the beneficiaries under the Will are. Even if the Will says that "I leave nothing to my wife," you have certain rights under Michigan law.
More information is needed to determine what your rights are in your situation and how best to proceed.
***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you find our answer helpful!
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