Can the Executor of a Will Spend the Money Any Way He Wants?

By Regan Rondinelli-Haberek

When someone dies and leaves a will, the will instructs how the deceased's property should be distributed. Likely, it will name the individual responsible for managing the estate, the estate’s personal representative, or executor. The executor has a duty to prudently manage the estate so that debts are paid and each beneficiary receives his due distribution.

The Probate Process

Probate is the process in which the court authenticates a will and gives an executor the authority to manage and settle the decedent’s estate. The probate process begins with presenting the original will and supporting documents to the probate court. When the court is satisfied the will is authentic, it officially appoints the executor in a document called Letters Testamentary. Once Letters are issued, the executor can begin estate administration.

The Executor’s Role

Executors owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries to deal honestly in their best interests and to administer the estate according to the terms of the will. An executor should never commingle estate funds with personal funds. Any payments he makes to himself from the estate should be documented to show they were made for legitimate purposes. Most states require executors to provide an accounting to the beneficiaries, showing money flowing in and out of the estate. If a beneficiary feels that an executor is using estate property imprudently or for the executor’s own financial gain, he can petition the court to compel the executor to comply with the terms of the will, or he can file a petition for to have the executor removed.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Does the Executor of Will Debt Need a Beneficiary's Signature to Pay Off Assets & Debts?


Related articles

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.

Does the Executor Have Authority Over the Will?

An executor is the person named in a will to administer the estate of the person who died. The executor may be a bank or trust company instead of an individual. While state law varies as to the exact duties of an executor, in general all executors must gather the estate's assets, pay creditors, then distribute remaining estate assets in accordance with the will's directives, without any discretion to deviate from the will except in limited circumstances.

What Is the Meaning of "Executor of an Estate"?

An executor is a person who manages the estate of the deceased, known as the decedent. Also called a personal representative, the executor is typically named in a will. A judge chooses and appoints an estate administrator if a decedent dies intestate, or without a will, or does not name an executor in his will. An estate administrator basically has duties and powers equivalent to an executor. Each state has individual laws regarding estates and executorships.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

What Happens When an Executor of a Will Doesn't Carry Out What the Will Asks For?

A last will and testament represents the final wishes of a deceased person, and laws are in place to ensure that the ...

What Can I Do if the Executor of the Estate Doesn't Pay Me as an Heir?

You are due an inheritance, but you have a problem with the way the executor is doing his job. Depending on the estate ...

Who Enforces the Execution of a Will?

In drafting your will, you may appoint a person to serve as your executor, also known as a personal representative. ...

Does the Executor of a Will Have to Use an Attorney to Execute the Will?

When you create a will, you not only leave instructions for how your property should be distributed upon death, you ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED