If Sibling A and Sibling B both agree a Will is unfair and Sibling A is the executor, can they “make things right” and divide the assets more equally?

UPDATED: Nov 5, 2014

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If Sibling A and Sibling B both agree a Will is unfair and Sibling A is the executor, can they “make things right” and divide the assets more equally?

Asked on November 5, 2014 under Estate Planning, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No...and yes, in a way.

No, they may not NOT change the distribution of the assets set out in the will--it doesn't matter if one is the executor and between them they inherit everything, since the will reflects the instructions of the testator (the person who died). A beneficiary under a will may refuse to take some or all of his or her inheritance, but he or she cannot then direct where it goes--it will be distributed as per the will, or if the will does not cover this situation, will be distributed as per intestate succession (who inherits when there is no will).

But once a person inherits something, it is his or hers, and he or she can give it (or sell it, trade it, etc.) to anyone he or she wants, subject just to tax considerations (e.g. the gift tax; possibly income tax for the recipient). So after A and B inherit, they can re-distribute the inheritance however they like, just bearing in mind the taxes (so they should probably consult with a CPA about how best to accomplish their their goals with minimal tax consequences).

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