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.

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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.

Executor of Estate Law in Ohio

An executor is the person appointed, in your will, to administer your estate after your death. Your executor should be someone you trust to disburse your property to your beneficiaries according to your wishes. While you are free to name your executor, Ohio law does set forth certain requirements to ensure the probate process goes smoothly. The probate court must approve the executor before he starts work. If you do not have a will, the court will appoint an administrator. Collectively, executors and administrators are referred to as personal representatives.

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. This person will have the responsibility of carrying out your wishes pursuant to the will. Because the executor has a number of responsibilities and can be held personally responsible if they are not properly carried out, carefully consider appointing someone who is trustworthy and capable of carrying out the somewhat complicated probate process.

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