Typically, when a will is created, an executor is appointed to oversee the affairs of the deceased. If there is no will—or if the designated executor cannot fulfill the duties when the time comes—an administrator is appointed in probate court. Here’s how that works.
Who Will the Court Appoint As Administrator?
When probate courts must appoint an administrator, they follow the priorities specified in the state’s probate code. For example, the California Probate Code lists these priorities:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner as defined in Section 37.
- Other issue.
- Brothers and sisters.
- Issue of brothers and sisters
- Issue of grandparents.
- Children of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner.
- Other issue of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner.
- Other next of kin.
- Parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner.
- Issue of parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner.
- Conservator or guardian of the estate acting in that capacity at the time of death who has filed a first account and is not acting as conservator or guardian for any other person.
- Public administrator.
- Any other person.
Collins Law Group further explains that probate court must also determine that the proposed administrator is competent. In California, for example, a party who has an interest in the affairs of the estate can object to the appointment of a surviving partner of the deceased as administrator. Other provisions in the California Probate Code prohibit minors and those who are not residents of the United States from serving as administrators. Probate courts may also determine that someone is unfit to execute the duties of administrator.
Administrators Are Fiduciaries
Court appointed administrators are fiduciaries—they are responsible for carrying out their duties in accordance with the law. Essentially, during the probate process, administrators are given control of the deceased person’s assets. Reporting to the court, an administrator must ensure outstanding debts are paid. The administrator then distributes remaining assets to the next of kin, following the state’s law of intestate succession.
Given the gravity of the duties involved, probate courts frequently require administrators to secure a type of fiduciary bond known as an administrator bond to protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with state law. Essentially, the administrator bond guarantees the faithful performance of the appointed administrator.
As a leading national provider, Colonial Surety Company helps court appointed administrators in every state quickly and affordably obtain their bonds. Uniquely, Colonial makes it quick and easy to obtain many fiduciary bonds, including administrator, personal representative, and executor bonds. The steps to obtaining an administrator bond with Colonial are easy—get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even while at court. Obtain an Administrator Bond Here.
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