Administering an individual’s estate after their death can be challenging and complex, depending on whether there is a will. If a will exists, it can provide a level of guidance to the surviving family members on how to administer the estate. If not, the court can intervene and deal with the matter based on the law.
The court also follows specific rules when appointing the estate administrator. This role is responsible for tying up loose ends left by the deceased, such as organizing assets in the estate, paying the deceased’s debts and distributing the estate properly. There is an order of priority when giving someone this role, such as the following:
- Immediate family members, putting the spouse first, then children and grandchildren
- If there is none, the priority goes to the next of kin, with parents first, then siblings, nieces and nephews
- Grandparents and other extended relatives
- Children of predeceased spouse
- Other valid appointees, such as conservators or guardians
In some circumstances, the court can assign the position to other parties as needed, such as a public administrator or the deceased’s creditors. The appointment can significantly hinge on whether there are surviving family members or relatives.
Dealing with complications when identifying an administrator
Identifying who the administrator or representative is could be challenging, especially when the death happens suddenly. Sometimes, the deceased might have unresolved details in their will, resulting in confusion. There can be multiple copies of the will, naming different people for the role.
Even if the will indicates someone for the position, the beneficiaries might have contradicting opinions of their qualifications for the job, making them contest the appointment. It is best to work with an attorney to avoid these issues and create an estate plan that can remain effective in any scenario.