Can an executor give away personal items to their family members who are not heirs or beneficiaries?

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Can an executor give away personal items to their family members who are not heirs or beneficiaries?

My stepmother is the executor of my father’s estate. She has given her sons most of my father’s clothes, accessories and personal items. She has denied me access to his house.

Asked on June 25, 2019 under Estate Planning, Arkansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

No, she may not: an executor has NO power or discretion to do anything other than follow the will, which includes that she may not give anything away to anyone who does not inherit under the will's plain terms.
The only way to rein in an executor not following the will is by a legal action--a lawsuit. You sue the estate and executor both in county court. In the lawsuit, you will be able to get a copy of the will (if you don't get one otherwise) and the court can order the executor to do or not do certain things, to repay the value to the estate of anything improperly taken or given away, or even replace her as executor. Contact the clerk's office of the probate court and explain the executor is giving away state assets; they should be able to direct you to forms and instructions you can use, if you elect to not simply hire an attorney to help.


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