When selecting someone to be the personal representative of your estate, you ordinarily would give the matter a great deal of thought and then select someone who you trust to carry out your wishes. After someone passes, their estate will have to be administered by their representative.    Depending on circumstances and how the estate plan is prepared, the personal representative may not be who was originally named. When your representative passes without a will, the question is raised—Who will administer your estate in their place?

Personal Representatives

When someone dies, the court will appoint a personal representative to administer the deceased person’s estate. This designation is usually made in a will.  The representative will have the power to gather the decedent’s assets, pay their debts, and will be responsible for distributing the remainder of the estate according to the will or, if there is no will, according to State intestate laws.  If the personal representative dies intestate, or without a will, the estate may be left without a representative or direction as to who is supposed to serve in their place.

Appointment of a Replacement

The first place to look for an alternative representative is the will itself.  There can be language stating that if the named personal representative cannot fulfill their duties, then another named individual is to be named.  However, if an alternate representative is not named, the court will appoint a representative in the following order:  the representative will be the surviving spouse if they are a beneficiary under the will, if not then other beneficiaries in the will, if not then the surviving spouse if they are not a beneficiary, other heirs, or someone else named by a creditor and approved by the court.

It is a good idea to prepare for the possibility that your named representative may not be the person to administer your estate.  The ideal situation is when an alternate administrator is named.  This will ensure that your estate will be managed by your chosen representative.  Otherwise, you will leave the decision of who will replace your named representative open to chance.  Planning for who will be the personal representative of your estate will ensure that your estate is administered by an individual chosen by you.

Our office has experienced attorneys who are here to help you plan for your estate.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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