When a person passes away, an executor named in the will handles matters related to their estate as it goes through probate. There are certain things that the person appointed to this important role cannot legally do.
Influence the testator
While the testator is still alive, they might have already chosen someone to serve as the executor of their estate. The executor cannot influence the testator in any way while they are creating their will. This is considered undue influence, which automatically invalidates a will. They are also prohibited from signing the will on the testator’s behalf.
Fail to communicate with beneficiaries
The executor of the estate cannot neglect the duty of communicating with beneficiaries. This negates the purpose of their role. Executors are required to effectively communicate with beneficiaries in a timely manner about the decedent’s will. They cannot simply shrug off locating any beneficiaries as it’s required by law that they inform the court that they have tried their best to contact and locate them.
Change or oppose the will
An executor cannot change or oppose the will in the any way. They are required to follow all the instructions laid out and ensure that each beneficiary receives what is specified to be theirs as outlined in the will. They cannot take an asset just because a beneficiary is unable to receive it or because a beneficiary has passed away before the testator. Instead, if a contingent beneficiary is named in the will, they are entitled to it.
Fail to pay creditors and taxes
The executor cannot fail to pay the decedent’s creditors if there’s a debt still due. They also cannot neglect paying estate taxes. They must also file tax returns whenever necessary.
Executors must only perform the duties as outlined by the law. They must follow everything instructed in the will.