Petition for Letters of Administration
This "petition" is one of the first steps in the Probate process if a deceased person passed away without having a valid Last Will and Testament. It may also occur when a named Executor in a will is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties.
Key points related to a petition for letters of administration include:
Intestate Estate: When a person dies without a will, their estate is referred to as Intestate. In these cases, the deceased left no direction for how to manage their Assets and so the court steps in to appoint an administrator to oversee the process according to state law.
Letters of Administration: Letters of administration are legal documents issued by the court that grant the administrator the legal authority to manage the estate. The administrator's role is similar to that of an Executor in cases with a valid will.
Filing a Petition: Those who are interested in becoming an administrator must file a petition for letters of administration with state probate court. The petition outlines the relationship to the deceased person, provides information about the estate's Assets and Debts, and explains why the petitioner believes they should be appointed as the administrator.
Priority of Appointment: If multiple individuals have a claim to be the administrator, the court typically follows a specific order of priority, which might be based on the relationship to the deceased person. For example, a surviving spouse or a close Surviving Family member might have priority over more distant relatives.
Surety Bond: In some cases, the court might require the administrator to obtain a Surety Bond. This bond serves as insurance against potential mismanagement or misconduct by the administrator.
Duties of the Administrator: Once appointed, the administrator is responsible for collecting and managing the assets of the estate, paying off debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the deceased's Heirs according to the laws of intestate succession.
Court Approval: The court reviews the petition for letters of administration, along with any supporting documents and evidence, to determine if the petitioner is suitable and capable of serving as the administrator.