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Can an Executor Change a Will? Understanding Your Rights

Hands holding an envelope labeled "Last Will and Testament." Can an executor change a will?

When someone passes away, their will is typically carried out by an executor, who is responsible for distributing assets and following the deceased person’s wishes. But can an executor change a will? Can they do so legally? This article explores the complex question of whether an executor can change a will.

What is an executor?

An executor is a person named in a will who is responsible for carrying out the deceased person’s wishes. In Uniform Probate Code states like Arizona, this role is called the Personal Representative. This person is responsible for distributing assets, paying debts and taxes, and handling any legal matters related to the estate. Executors may be named in the deceased person’s will. If there was no will, then the court appoints an executor based on  state law. (In Arizona, the list of people with priority to be appointed as personal representative is listed in A.R.S. Section 14-3203.) The executor or personal representative can be a family member, friend, or professional such as a lawyer or accountant. It’s important to choose an executor who is trustworthy and capable of handling the responsibilities involved.

What powers does an executor have?

An executor has the power to manage and distribute the assets of the deceased person’s estate according to the instructions in the will. They are responsible for paying any debts or taxes owed by the estate, and for handling any legal matters related to the estate. However, an executor does not have the power to change the instructions in the will. Their role is to carry out the wishes of the deceased person, not to make changes to those wishes. If a personal representative in Arizona has questions about how to interpret the will, or other questions, he or she can file a Petition for Instructions with the court asking for guidance pursuant to A.R.S. Section 14-3704.

If there are any disputes or questions about the will, it’s important to seek legal advice.

Can an executor change a will?

No, an executor does not have the power to change a will. Their role is to carry out the wishes of the deceased person as outlined in the will. If there are any disputes or questions about the will, it’s important to seek legal advice. However, in some cases, an executor may need to make minor changes to the will, such as correcting a spelling error or updating an address. These changes typically must be approved by a court and should not alter the overall instructions in the will.

Under what circumstances can an executor make changes to a will?

Generally, an executor cannot make changes to a will. However, there are some circumstances where minor changes may be necessary, such as correcting a clerical error or updating an address. These changes must be approved by a court and should not alter the overall instructions in the will. If there are any disputes or questions about the will, it’s important to seek legal advice. Executors have a duty to carry out the wishes of the deceased person as outlined in the will, not to make changes to it.

What are the legal implications of changing a will as an executor?

Changing a will as an executor without proper legal approval can have serious legal implications. It is probably a breach of their fiduciary duty. It can be considered fraud or forgery, and the executor may face legal action. Additionally, changing a will can also lead to disputes among beneficiaries and family members, causing unnecessary stress and strain during an already difficult time. It’s important for executors to understand their role and responsibilities, and to seek legal advice if they have any questions or concerns about carrying out the wishes of the deceased person.

Call Us to Help You Carry Out Your Loved One’s Will.

Don’t let uncertainty surround the power of an executor to alter a will. If you find yourself questioning the validity of a will or the actions of an executor, seek the guidance of our experienced probate team at Sudden Wealth Protection Law. Paul Deloughery is an experienced probate litigation attorney. We have the expertise to navigate the complexities of estate planning and probate law. Call us at 602-443-4888 to schedule a consultation today to protect your loved one’s final wishes and ensure a fair distribution of assets.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.

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