Can Executor of Will Nephew Go Against Deceased Grandmother’s Will?

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“My aunt recently passed away, she changed her will shortly before she died and left most of her assets to my nephew and named him as executor. He is being very hard to deal with as he is not honoring her wishes, doesn’t communicate with the rest of the family about what’s going on, and is not returning calls . He seems to be angry he only got 90 percent of her assets instead of all of them. My daughter is 7 yrs old and her grandma is her legal guardian. My aunt specifically bequeathed an expensive diamond ring to my daughter. Out of spite my nephew is supposedly not gonna distribute the ring to my daughter until she is eighteen, and says he’s gonna put in a trust. The will says nothing about putting the ring in a trust. Can he legally do that on his own, or can we insist that he give it to the grandma because she has custody of my daughter?”

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It depends on the specific laws in your area, and on how much the ring is worth.  Generally speaking, courts will allow assets up to a certain dollar amount to be distributed from probate to a child’s guardian, and above that amount require a more formal arrangement, such as a trust, until the child reaches the age of majority (18 in most areas).

To the extent your nephew is doing something which is not required by the court, you (or your daughter’s guardian) should have an opportunity to challenge it and explain to the court why he should do something different.  The precise procedure for this varies from state to state, and you may want to have an attorney represent you at the hearing.  In any case, it would be a good idea to speak with a local probate attorney now to ensure that you get proper notice and an opportunity to object when the time comes.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.