Can the executer of a will give away the deceased’s possessions if they are left to another person?

My uncle died. My father is the executor of the will. I am
named in the will to receive his estate. Can my father give
away my uncle’s possessions when I am supposed to get

Asked on August 26, 2016 under Estate Planning, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, the executor may not do this. The executor MUST follow the instructions in the will--he has no discretion to do otherwise. If the executor disobeys the will, a beneficiary (person who should receive something under the will) can  bring a lawsuit in surrogates or probate court seeking an "accounting" of the estate and the executor's performance. The court will analyze the will and what the executor did; if the executor disobeyed the will, he can ordered to stop doing that, to return anything taken, to pay the value of any items he took to the estate from his own pocket, and/or be removed as executor. Such a suit is somewhat procedurally complex; if you wish to explore doing this, you are advised to consult with an attorney.

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