My husband still has his ex-wife named as exector of his will. If he does not change it before he dies, will she retain authority?

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My husband still has his ex-wife named as exector of his will. If he does not change it before he dies, will she retain authority?

Am I protected in any way. We own a home together and I am named beneficiary on all of his accounts. We have joint financial accounts. Could she distrupt those?

Asked on June 15, 2009 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you own the home as "joint tenants", and all accounts are held jointly and you are named beneficiary, you should be protected as to those asserts.  In fact, they would not even be included in the probate estate so the executor would have no control over those.   However, since I haven't seen the actual documents, you should have an attorney review them just to make sure they are held (worded) in such a way as to fully protect your interests. 

As to any remaining assets, they would be part of the probate estate.  However, the executor would have to distribute those assets according to the terms of the will.  If they didn't they would be committing a breach of their fiduciary duty.  For such a breach they can be removed as executor and be held personally liable for any misconduct.

Bottom line, why doesn't your husband just change the executor to someone else?  Either you or the family attorney, for instance.


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