Does an executor of an estate have the power to sell a vehicle belonging to the not yet deceased who suffers from dementia?

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Does an executor of an estate have the power to sell a vehicle belonging to the not yet deceased who suffers from dementia?

Also, do they have the power to make all decisions reguarding the estate?

Asked on January 4, 2013 under Estate Planning, Oklahoma

Answers:

Tricia Dwyer / Tricia Dwyer Esq & Associates PLLC

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

In Minnesota law, the executor/executrix is the man or woman who is named by the person making a will (the ‘testator’) to administer the person’s estate.  The executor/executrix will collect property, pay any debt and distribute the person’s property according to the terms of the will.  In Minnesota the Executor is called the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative is appointed by the court to administer the estate of the decedent by giving notice of his/her appointment, paying claims owed by the estate and then distributing the estate according to the terms of the will (or to heirs if there is no will).  In general, Personal Representative appointed in a proceeding has the authority to do almost anything the decedent could have done with his/her property during his/her lifetime.

 

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The "executor of an estate" is a person appointed by a will to administer the "testator's" (the person who made the will) estate after the testator is deceased.  Therefore, if the person you describe is truly the executor of the person's estate, he or she has no authority to do anything with the testator's property until the testator has died.  Even after the testator's death, the executor must follow the Probate Rules and operate under court supervision.  He or she must carry out the wishes of the testator as expressed in the will - the executor does not have authority to make new decisions.

I am concerned that you may have confused terms.  A Power of Attorney does give authority to another person (called an "attorney-in-fact" or agent) to do anything that the principal (the person who prepared the POA) could do (unless the POA itself limits the power of the agent).  If the person you describe has a POA, he or she can sell the vehicle.  He or she can make many kinds of decisions for the incapacitated person.

Even if acting under a POA, the agent must act for the best interests of the principal.  The agent cannot act for her or his own benefit or harm the principal.

If you think there is something sinister going on, I suggest you contact a life or estate planning lawyer in your area immediately before serious damage is done.


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