An administrator of an estate is the person appointed by the court to handle all aspects of the estate. The title of administrator is also called an ‘executor’ when there is a Will that names a person to handle the estate. The Will is typically probated once it is admitted by the court and not contested. The administrator or executor has the authority to marshal assets, open estate bank accounts and to work closely with the attorney who is hired to complete the Probate process.
The first step in the administration of an estate is to petition the court to be appointed as administrator (or executor if there is a Will). All heirs as well as beneficiaries (when there is a Will) and others that may be named in the Will, will be notified by publication in a legal newspaper.
A hearing will be set by the court to appoint the administrator (or executor). Opposition petitions may be filed preventing the appointment of the person who petitioned the court.
There are a number of factors that determine the choice of administrator. Based on Probate Code 8461 certain people have priority to be administrator. Here is a partial list in order of priority:
- surviving spouse
- other issue
- brothers and sisters etc.
The list goes on (as per the Code) but most often the surviving spouse, children or, if there are no children, parents or siblings may take over the task of administration.
The administrator or executor is entitled to receive a fee based on state law. This fee is a statutory fee which is a percentage of the value of the estate. The administrator or executor can decline to take the fee or a part thereof.
For a thorough discussion of your estate needs, call Legal Action Workshop–the law firm that has been practicing Probate administration for over 35 years! We can be reached @ 1-800-HELP-444.