If all beneficiaries of an estate come to a mutual agreement regarding the division of assets, can the terms of a Will be overridden?

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If all beneficiaries of an estate come to a mutual agreement regarding the division of assets, can the terms of a Will be overridden?

I’m living in a house that is part of an estate. As it stands right now I’ve been told to get out so the lawyers can sell the estate and split the proceeds between myself and the other beneficiary. Neither party thinks that this is what the deceased actually wanted to have happen. He just wanted to see that we, the 2named beneficiariess, were provided for. Apart from the house itself there are furniture, stamps, coins, jewelry, and art that are going to be sold as part of the estate despite the fact that nobody wants this to happen.  Do I have to lose the house?

Asked on May 6, 2011 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Technically, the Executor of the estate - which I am assuming here is the attorney - has to follow the wishes of the decedent and the intent of the Will.  But there are ways to do that and to allow the beneficiaries the option of saving their memories in the meantime.  You can "purchase" the house house from the estate yourself.  The assets should all be appraised and valued so that you know exactly how much that they are worth.  Then say you want the house and it is valued at $250,000.  You would have to pay the other beneficiary $125,000.  But say the other beneficiary wants other assets in the house.  You can "deduct" your share of the value of those assets from the "money" you owe the other beneficiary.  I think that you may need to get your own lawyer here if this lawyer is not willing to work with you.  He or she may have other motives here and that is something you need to look at.  Good luck.


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