When an individual dies in Illinois, their will executor must manage their estate after their death. This gives the executor some level of power over their estate, particularly when they divide up the assets. This doesn’t give them the power to change the will itself, but there are some exceptions.
Can an executor alter a will?
Generally, estate planning and probate laws do not permit the executor to alter the will after the individual’s death. However, they might be able to change the will if the beneficiaries agree to the changes. An executor could write a deed of variation that changes parts of the will if the beneficiaries sign off on it.
While an executor can’t change the will without a deed of variation, they might not be able to follow the will exactly. For example, if the decedent left their house to all of their children, the executor will have to figure out how to divide up this asset equally. Additionally, they might not be able to follow parts of the will if the decedent made a mistake, like trying to give away property that they didn’t own.
Even if the executor has directions for dividing up the assets, they have to do so within the boundaries of the law. They can’t take an action that blatantly ignores the will, like leaving the house to an individual whom the decedent didn’t even mention in the will. They have to act objectively and divide up the assets according to the decedent’s last wishes, not what they think their last wishes should be. When you write a will, you might want to talk to an estate planning attorney about choosing the right executor for you.
How do you choose an executor?
Choosing an executor is a personal decision. You don’t have to choose an attorney or another professional; you could choose a trusted friend or family member. However, it’s important to choose someone who can be responsible, objective and dedicated to fulfilling your wishes. If you choose someone who wants to give themselves a large share of your assets, they might be at risk of a conflict of interest.