Proven Representation

Photo of Attorneys at Meadows Law Firm
Photo of Attorneys at Meadows Law Firm
Proven Representation

Do executors have the final say on estate matters?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2022 | Estate Planning

An executor of a testator’s will typically plays a critical role in Ohio probate proceedings. The executor handles many essential tasks, including paying estate debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries. It would be a mistake to assume an executor has full decision-making powers. Ultimately, the probate court has the final say in all matters.

An executor’s duties

An executor’s role involves following the wishes of the testator. If the will says a particular vehicle goes to the deceased’s sibling, the executor will assist with the car’s transfer to that person. For example, the executor cannot arbitrarily override the testator’s wishes and sell the vehicle because the sibling isn’t a responsible driver. The executor could bring the sibling’s driving history to the court’s attention, but the judge would decide.

An executor may have some leeway to make decisions for the estate. The executor has a fiduciary duty to represent the estate’s best interests. So, the executor might choose a new insurance provider to purchase homeowner’s insurance for property awaiting transfer. However, refusing to buy insurance after the original policy expires could be a sign of poor judgment or incompetence.

Choosing the right executor

The estate planning process involves making several crucial decisions. Besides drawing up documents, such as wills, trusts, power of attorney forms, and health care proxies, the estate planner must select the appropriate representatives to handle the jobs associated with the documents. An executor must be an honest and reliable person. Putting the wrong person in an executor’s job could lead to delays or outright disastrous decisions.

If an executor proves dishonest or unqualified for the job, heirs may take legal action to replace the person. Such incidents could lead to bad feelings among family members while driving up probate costs. Choosing the right person at the outset may avoid such troubles.