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How Is the Administrator of an Estate Determined?

estate administrator

In the Estate where a Will is offered for probate, a proposed executor (and sometimes an alternate) is nominated in the Decedent’s Will.  The deceased will generally choose a trusted family member, and occasionally they will choose an unrelated trusted individual such as a lawyer, financial specialist, or private professional fiduciary.

In an Estate where there is no Will, and thus no named Executor, there is a default statutory priority as to who can be the Administrator.  Subject to certain exceptions, the priorities go first to a surviving spouse, second to children, then to grandchildren, and on and on.

In the State of California, the court oversees the probate process.  When probate is opened in court, heirs have a right to question the choice and possibly ask for themselves to be appointed as the person in charge of the Estate.  One example for this action might be a case where it is claimed that the proposed administrator might have exerted undue influence over the deceased prior to their death, and thus, cannot be entrusted with the fiduciary position of administrator or executor.  Sometimes heirs may challenge that the administrator for having taken actions that may harm the rights of the others, or for some other conflict of interest that could impair his or her impartiality in administering the Estate.

An action like this is called a will contest or an appointment contest.  Normally a judge will hear arguments and then appoint the individual or individuals who will serve this important post in the best interests of the Estate and all interested parties.

In certain situations, a judge may replace an existing administrator where his or her actions have not been in the best interest of the Estate.

In a case where Advance Inheritance has provided cash to an heir, Advance Inheritance then has an interest that must be protected.  In certain cases where an Administrator is not acting properly or in the best interests of the Estate, Advance Inheritance, LLC, has the ability to petition the court to remove and replace a derelict administrator or fiduciary.