Do I have any legal right to be head of the estate?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have any legal right to be head of the estate?

A guy who is like my dad died without a Will. He has essentially been my dad since the age of 14; I’m 29 now. His sister is trying to be the head of the estate since I’m not his biological son but does recognize me as part of the family. She wants me to sign something from her lawyers stating Im ok with her being the head of the estate. I feel like I should have that right being that he’s my dad and everyone knows me as his son and if I legal couldnt be head of estate why would I need to sign that document?

Asked on May 20, 2019 under Estate Planning, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) You don't have any legal right (guaranty of, or even being the leading candidate) to be head of the estate, since you are not blood or adopted kin. If he had a will and named you executor, you would be; but without a will, if there is a family member who is qualified (not mentally incompetent; not a criminal; not in a distant country) and interested in the role, the court will appoint her, not you. If there was no suitable family member, the court would likely name you, but not if there is one.
2) Even though she's the one a court would appoint, that wouldn't stop you from trying to challenge the appointment, if you believed (and believed you could prove) that she was unsuitable on some ground (e.g. mental capacity, drug use, criminal past, etc.). She probably wants you to sign just to head off the possibility of a challenge.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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