Wondering if an executor of a will can also be a beneficiary? It is not uncommon to wonder if an executor of a will can be a beneficiary.
Frankly speaking, the duties of an executor can be quite demanding, especially if the estate is large. Although, different jurisdictions have different rules for will executors.
Some of the questions most Canadians like you are asking are: Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary? Or can the executor of a will take everything?
In this post, you will find out whether an executor of a will can also be a beneficiary or take everything.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that allows a person to assign their assets to their loved ones.
This important document makes sure that your property goes where you want it to when you’re dead.
Also, your will allows you to outline who should take care of your assets and administer the estate when you’re no more.
That’s where an executor comes in. The major role of an executor is to implement a will upon the demise of the owner.
So the question is: Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary? Or can the executor of a will take everything?
As you read further, you will know if an executor can also be a beneficiary or take everything.
Why Do You Need a Will?
There are many reasons you need a will. But here are just a few of them:
1. Decide Who Gets Your Assets
Having a will allows you to decide who is eligible for your assets or estate when you’re gone.
Also, a will can help ensure that the people you want get what you intend for them. This helps in preventing uncertainty or confusion upon your death.
2. Determines Who Will Manage your Estate
A will determines who will assume responsibility for your estate and how to distribute your assets.
Thus, you can determine who should manage your estate, preventing the government from overruling your wishes.
3. Saves Time and Stress of Your Beneficiaries
With a will, your assets will be seamlessly distributed to your beneficiaries, preventing probate.
Probate is an expensive and time-consuming court proceeding that leads to the public disclosure of your assets.
In this case, all your assets could then get tied up in probate court for months or even years.
4. Lower the Chance for Family Disputes.
If you’re concerned about the well-being of your family after your demise, it’s important to outline how they should distribute your assets when you’re gone.
Thus, a will serves as a tool for eliminating unpleasant family disputes after you pass away.
Consequently, your death shouldn’t be the reason for family disputes.
5. Provide Funeral Instructions
You can outline how you want your funeral to be through a will.
Consequently, you can decide how much to spend, who should be in charge of your body, and which songs you would like played at your funeral service.
3 Common Terms Associated With a Will
There are many terms relating to a will. For the purpose of this article, we shall discuss only the following:
A beneficiary is any person or entity you want to receive property, benefits, or certain rights upon your death.
Your beneficiary could be one person but could also be a group of people. For example, you might name your daughter and all her children as beneficiaries.
Assets are the tangible and intangible things you own, such as your house, car, or savings account.
Typically, assets make up the bulk of your estate. All your property and liabilities in your will are estate.
A will executor is the person named in a will to oversee the distribution of a deceased person’s assets.
In other words, executors are responsible for fulfilling the decedent’s wishes as stated in their will. This includes: sending letters of notice or other information regarding the distribution of assets.
Subsequently, you will learn more about the responsibilities of an executor to beneficiaries.
Executor Responsibilities to Beneficiaries
The roles of executors can be dynamic. But here are the key responsibilities of an executor to beneficiaries:
- Locate the will
- Retain the services of a lawyer
- Locate and safeguard the assets of the deceased
- Keep track of the will’s beneficiaries
- Fill in the necessary paperwork to liquidate the estate.
- Distribute the assets.
Can an Executor of a Will Be a Beneficiary?
There has been some controversy about the legality of being a beneficiary while also being the executor of a will.
The conflict revolves around whether or not there will be a conflict of interest when an executor benefits from the same will.
Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary? Yes, an executor can be a direct beneficiary of the will and still legally administer it.
Although the executor is the individual responsible for carrying out the deceased person’s estate plan terms, they may also be a beneficiary of this plan.
This isn’t as strange as it may seem at first glance. The executor is essentially the person who implements all the will’s provisions.
Therefore, it is entirely legal and normal for the executor of a will to be a beneficiary of the same will. For instance, the executor might also be a personal friend, a spouse or a family member of the deceased.
Can the Executor of a Will Take Everything?
It depends on the content of the will. A situation that may occur is when a person dies without making an appropriate will leaving assets to their loved ones
Therefore, it is the executor’s responsibility to go through the will and distribute the assets according to the will. The executor can’t just take everything because a will say specifically which assets to leave to whom.
However, the executor of the will can take everything if the will specifically says so. But this is not always the case. If the will requires the distribution of the assets, that is exactly what happens. If there are debts obligations, then the assets will have to cover them.
Can a Will Be Changed By an Executor?
It is not easy for a will’s executor to change the will because they have no power to act alone. There must be a deed of variation if any beneficiary under the original will wants to change it.
A deed of variation is a legal document created to change a will. The only person who can make a deed of variation is the will’s executor, but they can’t sign it alone. They need to have the signature of all the beneficiaries.
Thus, some beneficiaries could dispute the changes if an executor makes changes without getting everyone’s agreement in writing.
This means that the executor would face opposition from beneficiaries. But by signing a deed of variation, the executor and the beneficiaries agree to change the sharing of the inheritance.
What to Do When the Executor is Not Communicating with Beneficiaries
The probate process can be quite complex and often frustrating for beneficiaries. The main point of the probate process is to transfer property to the beneficiaries.
So if you are a beneficiary to an estate in probate, you need to know how to find out what is happening with the probate process.
Beneficiaries who are to receive a large inheritance need to know when the will is on probate. They also need to know when they can expect an accounting of the estate.
On the other hand, executors are legally obligated to act in the best interests of beneficiaries. They are also required to provide updates on the status of the estate.
But if the executor is not responding, seeking help from their attorney can be an effective strategy.
Accordingly, the executor answers to the beneficiaries and not the other way around. So if your executor isn’t communicating, contact their estate lawyer.
The ester lawyer or attorney has a professional relationship with the executor and can communicate on the beneficiary’s behalf.
Beneficiary Executor Conflict of Interest
Conflict of interest between executors and beneficiaries is one of the most common causes of executors’ prosecution.
For some executors, dealing with an estate brings about a new and sensitive experience, and conflicts sometimes arise. It’s also common for an executor to find themselves at the wrong end of a lawsuit.
So beneficiary executor conflict of interest happens when an executor begins to look at the role as a personal service and not a fiduciary duty.
Executors have a fiduciary duty that requires them to serve the estate’s interest. Yet, some executors can become emotional due to the benefits they receive because of their role.
Therefore, an executor must ensure the complete implementation of the will’s provisions. Also, an executor is to help beneficiaries understand their inheritance and keep them from challenging the validity of the will.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing an Executor
When choosing an executor, it is advisable to consider the following factors:
When choosing an executor, consider the location of that person. Is your executor local, or do they live abroad?
An executor can present obstacles for an estate if the executor lives abroad. This is because they may find it challenging to manage a property without visiting it regularly.
2. Flexible Schedule
While choosing an executor, look for someone with a flexible schedule.
So you want to know the type of records they keep and how often they review them.
This will help you choose someone who prioritizes his job and who has time to be your executor.
If you choose someone who already has a full-time job, they may not give their best when you’re gone.
Having the right person as your executor is essential to ensure successful implementation of documents.
Therefore, before you choose your executor, determine if they are competent to act in your will.
This person must at least be up to the age of majority according to your province or territory. The majority of age in Canada varies according to provinces and territories.
Just make sure they are mature enough to handle the responsibility and stress of being an executor.
It is essential that the person who is to execute a will enjoys good health and is free from physical and mental ailments.
Therefore, before choosing your executor, you need to consider that your executor must be in the best health condition.
Questions to Ask When Appointing an Executor as Beneficiary
Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary? This question leads us to other questions you need to ask before appointing an executor as a beneficiary.
Does He have Conflict with Other Beneficiaries?
The last thing you want is for your beneficiaries to fight or, even worse, challenge the will in court.
This is why it’s essential to appoint an executor who has no conflict with other beneficiaries, whether through friendship, business dealings, or otherwise.
Thus, consider appointing someone as your executor who has no conflict with other beneficiaries.
Is He a Poor Communicator?
One of the most important jobs of an executor is to communicate regularly and openly with the beneficiaries.
Also, an executor is responsible for distributing property and settling any legal disputes among beneficiaries over their inheritances.
For these reasons, choose an executor who is a good communicator and open to resolving disagreements with others.
Will there be a Legal Challenge?
Will there be a legal challenge if an executor of a will is also the beneficiary?
This is something to ask yourself before you make someone a beneficiary and executor of your will.
You want to avoid putting beneficiaries who could become the executor of your estate in a legal dispute.
The question of whether or not a beneficiary can also be an executor of a will is a curious one because both positions have a direct and equally vital role to play in the distribution of an estate.
Now that you are aware that an executor of a will can also be a beneficiary, I hope you can now give an accurate answer to the question: Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary?
Can an executor override a beneficiary?
Yes, an executor can override a beneficiary’s preferences if they act according to the will or court instructions.
What happens if an executor takes all the money?
If beneficiaries suspect an executor is taking from an estate, they must act immediately. They have the right to assume the executor to court and potentially accuse them of theft.
Is an executor required to communicate with beneficiaries?
Yes. An executor is required to give the beneficiaries updates about the estate’s progress.
What power does executor of a will have?
An executor has the power to handle the estate’s affairs. Executors can spend the money in the estate in whatever manner they see appropriate and follow the decedent’s intentions.
Hi, I'm Adeola Adegoke. I am a licensed Insurance Broker in Manitoba, and I hold a master’s degree in Mathematical Sciences (with a major in Financial Modeling) from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Tanzania.
Also, I have a second master's degree in Statistics from the University of Regina, and I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Statistics at the University of Manitoba.
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