Probate Question: Do I Have to Follow the Will?

“Do I have to follow the will?” is a common probate attorney question, so I thought now would be a good time to address it.

Before you think to yourself “of course you do!”, here’s a factual example.

Let’s say Fred dies with a will. The will splits everything equally amongst his three kids.

However, Fred already gave one of the kids a significant amount of money, and all of the kids are in agreement that that money already given was SUPPOSED to be part of that specific kid’s inheritance.

But Fred never updated his will to specifically spell that out.

All the will says is “split three ways.”

And the early inheritance was never noted in any kind of written contract or agreement (or in writing at all).

Does the Personal Representative have to follow the will?

Unfortunately, the short answer, the IMMEDIATE answer, is yes.

Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things you could do, but they’re a little too complex to describe here in a blog post.

If you are in that position the next best thing to do is talk to a probate attorney to get some strategies for moving forward (the correct strategy is going to depend A LOT on the specific facts of your case).

If you just go rogue, though, and do whatever you want, there can be substantial consequences, particularly if you are the Personal Representative.

Don’t wait. Set up a time to chat. It’s free!


Christopher Small
Estate Planning Attorney

PS – Click here to schedule a FREE strategy session with an estate planning attorney.