Who can serve as a personal representative of an estate?

UPDATED: Aug 18, 2011

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Who can serve as a personal representative of an estate?

My cousin died in WA. His neighbor wanted to be the personal representative, so he went to court and got it. Is this legal? Can my family stop this?

Asked on August 18, 2011 Montana


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A PR is appointed by the Probate Court (of the county in which the deceased was domiciled as of the date of their death). While as a general rule it is a family member, it can also be a close friend. The individual who wants appointment as a PR must file an application with the court. If only one person makes such an application than that person is typically appointed (assuming that they are of age and otherwise competent). However, in the case in which an objection is made and another person seeks appointment, they must also submit an application. The probate court will then make the determination as to who to appoint. It will look to see who can more efficiently and fairly administer the estate.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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