Surviving family members have many responsibilities after a loved one dies. If your loved one created a thorough estate plan, you and other family may have an easier time addressing the settling of the estate. However, many people die intestate, or without a will, and in such a case, you may have to take more steps to effectively address estate needs.
Because an estate needs someone in charge, an executor, personal representative or administrator needs appointing. You may wish to note that these different terms essentially describe the same position. In the event that a person died without appointing his or her own executor, someone would need to step in to handle that role.
Of course, you may wonder who has the authority to take on such an appointment. In most cases, the court could attempt to appoint the following individuals to take on the position of administrator:
- Surviving spouse - The court may choose to appoint a surviving spouse in order to take care of the estate due to his or her relative closeness to the situation. Of course, he or she could turn down the role due to feeling inadequately prepared or otherwise not wanting to handle the responsibilities.
- Next of kin - In the event that no surviving spouse exists or that he or she declines the role, the deceased's next of kin may come under consideration. Again, this individual or individuals could renounce the role.
- Public administrator - If the first two options do not prove successful, the court could appoint a public administrator. This individual or entity typically involves an outside professional to handle the necessary estate-related duties.
Petitioning for appointment
Of course, if you do not fall into any of the above categories or you simply feel that you have the best abilities to take on the role of administrator, you could petition the court to gain the appointment. If the court believes that you hold the necessary qualifications, you could gain the position. However, you may wish to remember that this role has many responsibilities and can prove time consuming.
In order to better understand who could take over the closing of a loved one's estate, you may wish to gain more information on executors, administrators and dying intestate in California. This knowledge may help you determine what steps you may need to take to effectively address a family member's estate.