executor of an estate – responsibilities

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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executor of an estate – responsibilities

can an executor of an estate make any decisions regarding requesting an autopsy for the deceased? or can an executor have any input into funeral arrangements that the family makes?

Asked on April 11, 2016 under Estate Planning, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The executor has the power given to him or her by the will. Generally, that is power to oversee the estate and the distribution of the estate as per the will, and to what what is necesary in regards to the estate (e.g. settling debts; paying taxes or maintenance on property, pending its distribution, etc.). An executor *can* have power over the funeral or over an autopsy if the will gives him or her such power; otherwise, the power would belong to the next of kin (e.g. a spouse; an adult child; etc.), with one caveat: if the next of kin want the estate to pay for the furneral or the will directs that the estate will do so, then since the executor has authority over the estate's finances, he or she will therefore necessarily get input into the funeral. Since the executor also has the duty to maximize the assets to be distributed to all heirs and beneficiaries, he or she may object to and even refuse to pay for excessive funeral costs.

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