An administrator of an estate is the person appointed by the court to handle all aspects of the estate. Be advised, the title of ‘administrator’ is also called ‘executor’ when named in a Will. When there is a Will, it is typically probated once it is admitted by the court and not contested. The administrator or executor can do several tasks. Specifically, he/she has the authority to marshal assets as well as open estate bank accounts. In addition, he/she also works closely with the attorney who is hired to complete the Probate process.

The first step in a Probate is to petition the court to be appointed as administrator/executor. All heirs and beneficiaries 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
  • children
  • grandchildren
  • other issue
  • parents
  • brothers and sisters etc.

Most often the surviving spouse and/or children take over the task of administration. However, if there is no spouse or children, the parents or sibling(s) may become administrators. The attorney will advise based on the particular situation.

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. We’re the law firm that has been practicing Probate administration for over 35 years! Call us @ 1-800-HELP-444.

Reader Interactions


  1. Sandra Bouchard says

    I became the administrator of my mother’s estate in December 2022 when I petitioned the probate court as pro-se. The judge appointed me the administrator and wanted me to get a lawyer to do the legal papers to close case. I hired a lawyer that quit midstream without offering a replacement attorney which did prejudice the case. I am back to being pro-se. I am 69, retired on a fixed income (social security) no pensions. My attorney still has our mother’s money in his sub account at his bank. I am listed on the EIN for my mother as the adminstructor. On big problem is that the lawyer was padding the invoices charging the estate for fake things that he never did. The judge did not first make him go through a fiduciary hearing. I am at my wits end. How can I get the right amount of money from my mother’s estate so that I can pay the heirs. There was more work to be done. My former lawyer was supposed to subpoena the bank where my mother had a savings, checking and trust fund account. I am being exploited by a shady lawyer.

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      I’m sorry that this has happened to you! I would report the lawyer to the State Bar and you can also speak with a ‘malpractice lawyer’ to assess damages etc. As far as how to go forward, you would need to hire another lawyer to help. This time, try to find one with very good reviews.
      Hope this helps!

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