If my mother died and left no Will, who can be the executor of her estate?

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If my mother died and left no Will, who can be the executor of her estate?

I live in the house in AL; my sister lives in WI. She filed to be executorof the estate. She has never been here in AL. I have been living with my mother off and on for the past 8 years. She wouldn’t come here when my mother died to help me. She wouldn’t come to spread the ashes. But now she wants to be named executor of the estate. Can I refuse to have her appointed?

Asked on August 17, 2011 Alabama

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all the term "executor" is only applicable in a situation in which someone dies with a Will. If someone dies without a Will (i.e. "intestate"), then a "personal representative" is appointed. A PR has essentially the same duties as an executor. They must collect all assets of the estate, pay all debts and other obligations of the estate, distribute remaining assets to the heirs and generally handle all other estate matters.

While an executor is appointed in a Will, a PR is appointed by the Probate Court (of the county in which the deceased was domiciled as of the date of their death). Typically it is a family member but it can also be a close friend or the like.

The individual who wants appointment as a PR must make application to the court. If only one person makes such an application they are typically appointed (assuming that they are of age and otherwise competent). However, in the case in which more than one person seeks appointment, each person must file an application.

The probate court will then make the determination as to who to appoint. They will look to see who can more efficiently administer estate matters. Since you are in state and are familiar with you mother's affairs, you stand a good chance of appointment. However being out-of-state will not automatically preclude your sister from being appointed.


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