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How does the court choose an estate administrator?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2023 | Estate Planning

When someone dies, it is up to their surviving family members to manage their estate correctly. A simple process exists to distribute the deceased’s assets but could enter probate based on the circumstances.

After starting the probate case, the court could appoint an individual to be the estate executor based on the deceased’s will. This person will represent the estate and fulfill duties throughout the entire process. However, what happens if the deceased does not have a will?

In this situation, the court can identify an estate administrator. However, they cannot choose based on preference. They can assign the role based on a priority list provided by the law. The following surviving family members could qualify as the administrator:

  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Other lineal descendants of the deceased
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Descendants of the deceased’s siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Descendants of the deceased’s grandparents

The list could go on, including distant relatives as needed. If the deceased has no qualified relatives, the role could go to a conservator, public administrator or creditor.

What are the qualities of an estate administrator?

If eligible, the administrator must represent the estate. They have crucial responsibilities, such as keeping an inventory of the assets, settling the deceased’s financial obligations and fairly distributing the estate to the qualified beneficiaries.

Aside from being dependable, they should be trustworthy and honest. They should also be good communicators to keep beneficiaries updated on the process. If they make mistakes that impact the estate’s value, the court could hold them liable for the loss.

Being an estate administrator takes a lot of work. They must keep up with countless paperwork and meet strict deadlines to move the process forward. Still, it is a vital role that honors the law, the beneficiaries and the deceased.