If the executor takes items without prior notice does that invalidate their executorship?

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If the executor takes items without prior notice does that invalidate their executorship?

My father died unexpectedly but with a Will. Unfortunately my physically handicapped stepmother is both the executor and a beneficiary and receives basically everything (my father told us differently).  According to recent VA law, we have to pay off our father’s portion of his mortgage from the estate despite my stepmother being on the title. The contents of my father’s beach house was to be divided among us. My stepmother went in early and took everything she wanted before and without consulting us. Does that invalidate her status as executor? And if so, what can we do?

Asked on May 5, 2011 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the situation as it stands now.  This is a very difficult question to give guidance on without reading the Will of your Father and trying to gleam the intent behind it.  Did the Will state the beach house and all its contents?  Executors have the right to do what they think is best for the estate, not for them personally.  They can not do something in opposite of the wishes of the decedent, your Father here.  And if you think that she is then you have the right as a beneficiary to challenge her appointment based upon these concerns and have her removed.  That can be a very costly endeavor and she is entitled to be defended with estate funds.  So maybe just speaking with an attorney and having them negotiate a resolution that you think is fair may help.  Good luck. 


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