If an individual close to you should pass away without having a will in place, an administrator is appointed to manage the estate. This process is not as simple as just picking somebody, but must first go through the Petition for Letters of Administration and then be approved by the court.
There are several different ways in which an administrator is chosen. If priority is not given to a surviving spouse or an heir close to the deceased, the court will appoint someone. The family is then given ten days to either object or accept the court’s decision.
How Does the Court Choose an Administrator?
Unfortunately, many individuals fail to create a will or estate plan before they pass. However, most people leave behind at least some assets upon their death. In order to properly manage all of the deceased’s assets, and in order to ensure that they go to the proper beneficiary or heir, an administrator must be appointed. Usually this title goes to the closest surviving spouse or heir by unanimous decision from other remaining heirs. However, when the vote isn’t unanimous, the decision goes to the probate court.
Under the Petition for Letters Administration, all heirs are given ten days to either object or accept the court’s decision. If an objection is made, this is called a caveat, and will cause the estate to become contested. If no one should object, however, an administrator is appointed, and the family can go about dividing the estate between all heirs.
Responsibilities of an Administrator
The first step of the appointed administrator is to file an initial inventory of the estate’s assets. Because a court appointed administrator’s powers are much more limited than an executer of the will, it is their duty to obtain permission from the probate court before any action is taken. If all heirs agree, however, they can request a broader power from the court to speed things up. This will allow the whole process to go much more quickly than if the administrator constantly had to seek the court’s permission.
Despite their limited power, the administrator of an estate has the following responsibilities:
- To identify, protect, and conserve real and personal property;
- To collect all rents, payments, and debts that are due on the estate, including interest and dividends;
- To determine all possible heirs;
- To pay all outstanding debts, including tax debts; and
- To carry out all orders of the district court.
Request the Help of an Oklahoma City Probate Lawyer
At Jim A. Lyon Law Firm, our Oklahoma City probate lawyer can assist in the administration of a loved one’s estate if they passed away without a will or estate plan. Oftentimes, families find it helpful to work with a probate attorney, as a probate lawyer is objective, understands Oklahoma probate law, and can get the process over with in as quick and efficient way as possible. To consult with an Oklahoma probate lawyer today, call 405-843-0461 or schedule an appointment online.