In this issue, we’ll review the petition for letters of administration.
In cases where the deceased does not have a will the probate court will have more oversight into the administration of the estate. For example, usually an administrator is required to post a bond and they must request the permission of the court to take almost any action with an estate, such as selling estate property. An administrator must also file an inventory with the court listing all of the assets of the estate. This is not the case with an executor, only with an administrator.
The petition for letters of administration is the most common petition used when the deceased did not have a will. Use of this petition will result in the probate court appointing an administrator who will settle the estate.
There are several ways to select an administrator. It is common, however, for a surviving spouse or an heir who is selected unanimously by the other heirs to have priority consideration.
The probate court must provide notice in writing to all heirs of the estate who do not consent to the petition when the probate petition is filed. A minimum of ten days is allowed to each heir in order to object to the probate petition. The technical term used for this objection is caveat. The probate court will usually appoint the petitioner as administrator by issuing letters of administration, unless there is an objection filed.
After being appointed, the administrator will usually have to post a bond. Bond amount is determined by the total value of the property of the estate, not counting real estate. The administrator will also need to file an initial inventory of all assets of the estate. This inventory is usually required shortly after the administrator has been appointed. In addition, the administrator must file an annual inventory with the court each year. The annual inventory shows all transactions as well as income and expenses of the estate during that year.
The administrator usually wields very limited powers and must obtain approval from the probate court before taking many actions. In such circumstances as selling the estate’s assets, the administrator must seek permission from the probate court before moving forward. This usually holds true unless all of the heirs agree otherwise.
If all of the heirs do agree, they may ask the probate court to grant the administrator very broad powers. With these broader powers the administrator would not be required to seek probate court approval for each action. Where there are no disputes between family members in simple estates, these additional powers can help move the probate process along more easily.
In the next issue, we will discuss the petition for order declaring no administration necessary. That petition is the second of the two petitions that may be filed only if the deceased did not have a will.
The administrator of an estate has a big job to do. In our office, we want to help you make sure that the estate is settled properly, from the beginning. If you have questions or would like additional help with probate, let us be your guide.
Call our office at (770) 920-6030 or use the form to schedule your free consultation.