How best to fight the appointment of an adminstator to an estate?

A few years ago my father told me he had a Will and he wanted me to be executrix. My sister says he also told her about a Will and that he wanted me to be executrix. He recently passed away. His girlfriend claims she can’t find a Will. A few days after he died she started using his last name which is not her legal name and claiming they were common-law but they weren’t. She has now filed paperwork with the probate court using his last name as hers asking to be assigned as independant administrator of his estate. My dad has 4 adult children, none related to her. Is it legal for her to file documents with the court using a ficticious name, not her legal name? I know at least 3 of the 4 children do not believe she should be administrator but that I should handle the estate as my dad requested. Do we respond to her attorney and/or the court or do we disregard her request and submit paperwork to the court with statements from all of us requesting that I be administrator?

Asked on September 8, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You and your siblings should hire an estate lawyer and object to the girlfriend being appointed as administrator.  This is the first step.

I do not know of a single state that would allow a girlfriend to inherit in the absence of a will.  Florida does not allow it.  In Florida, family members have preference to serve as administrator (personal representative in Florida) in the absence of a will, not a girlfriend.

There will be other steps.  Appointing an administrator is just the first step.  If I were you, I would start looking for the lawyer who may have prepared your father's will.  That lawyer should at least have a copy, and a copy can be admitted to probate under some circumstances.  The will could be in a safe deposit box.

The girlfriend will have to prove she is your father's spouse in order to be administrator or inherit.  I don't know what state you live in, but most states no longer recognize common law marriage. 

I do not recommend that you and your siblings attempt to deal with this on your own.  You should consult a lawyer.


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