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Deciding who will be the administrator of an estate

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2021 | Estate Planning

After the death of a loved one, you and the other family members may have to decide who will take care of closing out the estate. This could happen even if there is a will that names someone for the role if that person is no longer available or decides he or she cannot handle the responsibility. 

Here are some factors that California courts suggest that you consider before volunteering or choosing someone else to be the administrator. 

The priority list

You could simply go down the priority list in the probate code until you find someone who is willing. The spouse or domestic partner of the deceased is the law’s first choice for the administrator. Presumably, this person has intimate knowledge of the deceased and the estate and would be in the best position to take care of it. However, someone who just lost a partner may not be in the best position emotionally and may prefer to pass the duties on. 

The list proceeds with children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents, grandparents’ other children, a deceased spouse’s or partner’s children or other next of kin. 

The skills

Perhaps two siblings both want to be the administrator, or a person who is lower on the list wants to take over even though there are others higher on the list who are willing. In that case, it may be better to weigh who in the group is in a better position to see the responsibilities through to completion. The administrator will need to be diligent, responsible, organized and trustworthy. 

If all else fails, you can go to court and let the judge decide between those who want the job. However, if the family can decide, it eliminates that extra step from the probate process.