Can an Executor of a Will Also Be a Beneficiary?

By Marie Murdock

A testator, or person making a will, often names someone he trusts in the will to manage his affairs after his death. This person is referred to as a personal representative or executor. Since family members are often the most trusted people in the testator's life, one or more of them are frequently named as personal representatives even though they may also be devisees, or beneficiaries, under his will.


A spouse may be the primary or only devisee under a will, acquiring all the assets of the deceased. She may also be the named executor in the will. Probate may merely be the process through which all property of the decedent is conveyed to her after payment of all debts owed by the estate.


An adult child of the decedent is also frequently named as executor. Often, more than one child is named and can serve as co-executors jointly. Alternatively, the eldest child may be named to serve as sole executor, with another child being named as a successor executor in the event the eldest is unable or unwilling to serve. These same children are likely also to be devisees under the will, sharing the assets jointly or with a surviving spouse.

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A testator may designate a trusted friend to serve as executor of his will in case he is concerned about discord in the family if he names one of her children to manage the assets to be shared between them. His choice of an objective friend to manage his assets and keep the peace among family members may be rewarded by a specific devise under his will, such as a prized hunting rifle if the two hunted together, or even a cash or monetary award that is over and above what is customary for payment to an executor.

Corporate Executor

There may be times, especially when an estate has numerous and diversified assets, when a testator names a bank or financial trust company as executor under her will. Probate may take years to finalize, and the executor receives compensation in an allowable amount from the estate for its services. This compensation is classified as payment for services rendered, and may be mentioned as such in the will. Although not technically considered a devise under the will, a corporate executor may be considered as a beneficiary.

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In Last Wills, Trusts & Estates, Can an Executor Also Be a Beneficiary?


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The Executor & Trustee of a Will

Fiduciary powers, or powers to act on behalf of another, may be granted to both executors and trustees under a will. Under most wills, an executor, also referred to as a personal representative, will be named in the will and appointed by the court upon probate to fulfill its terms. If the will also establishes a testamentary trust, or a trust created by the will, then a trustee will also be designated to fulfill the terms of the trust.

Who Is Legally the Next of Kin?

Next of kin is a legal term that comes up when someone has died without a will. If an individual dies without leaving a valid will, her estate passes to the relatives described as next of kin in the state's intestacy laws. Most states consider the deceased's surviving spouse and children next of kin for inheritance purposes.

If an Executor Is Not Available Who Could Execute a Will?

The executor is the person named in a will to administer an estate and fulfill the terms of the will, upon the passing of the will maker, or testator. However, a named executor may decline to take on the role of executor, or in some cases, may be deceased or simply unable to fulfill the role. A well-written will typically has provisions for these circumstances, or in the absence of these provisions, the court may intervene.

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