How much authority does a personal representative have over an estate?

UPDATED: Jun 18, 2011

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How much authority does a personal representative have over an estate?

My mother recently passed away and she put her next door neighbor, who is a truck driver, as the representative for her Will. She left cash, CDs, and a house that’s in very poor condition. The representative now wants to do major repairs to the house before it is sold. They include:all new siding, all new windows, all new doors, new air conditioning, new floors and carpets. Can he legally take money from the estate to do these repairs? I would rather have the house sold as is. Also, he now wants a fee for being the representative, although he stated before her death that he would take no fee.

Asked on June 18, 2011 under Estate Planning, Minnesota


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the ensuing problems.  The Executor of the Estate (the personal representative named in the Will, has a great deal of power to do as they think in carrying out the wishes of the decedent as expressed in their Will.  How the Will is worded may give some insight in to the answers to your questions.  And if you think that the actions of the executor go against the wishes of the decedent or that they are not prudent given the circumstances (money in to the house versus recouping the money in this market) then you have a right to object.  An attorney will let you know how that is done.  As for the fee, unless it says no fee in the Will they are generally entitled under the law to take it.  If he did not sign a waiver then he still can do so.  Good luck.    

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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