How much power does the personal representative of an estate have?

UPDATED: Aug 7, 2012

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How much power does the personal representative of an estate have?

My sister died 3 months ago and I am trying to settle her affairs. I am having a very hard time getting information from the life insurance companies, the hospital, or her employer benefits department. I have filed to become P but do not have letters of administration yet, so I understand the current roadblocks. However, the insurance company says that they will not give me information even after I have the letters. Can they withhold information from a PR? Will it make getting her medical records such as her autopsy easier? The hospital is putting us off.

Asked on August 7, 2012 under Estate Planning, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Until you have letters of administration from the court, you have no power.  Zilch.  Zero. 

Even once you have letters of administration life insurance companies have nothing to talk to you about--as life insurance is payable to the beneficiary and does not pass through the estate.  Whoever is the beneficiary of the life insurance policy should contact the life insurance company.

 Best of luck.


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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