Does the probate court check out the background of people who apply to be personal representatives?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Does the probate court check out the background of people who apply to be personal representatives?

I have 2 siblings both whom want to be the personal representative of my mother’s estate. She named a PR who declined. Now one of my siblings is the perfect picture of financial stability; the other is unemployed and deeply in debt. I’m nervous what will happen if the 2nd sibling is appointed.

Asked on December 29, 2017 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The court will only inquire into this if some interested party--someone who stands to inherit (such as yourself)--challenges the appointment in court, by claiming (and providing some basis or evidence for the claim) that the proposed representative is unfit for the role. If no one challenges the appointment, the court does not take it on itself to look into this. If you are concerned, therefore, you need to challenge the appointment of your siblings (and potentially put yourself forward as a candidate); either speak to a probate attorney about having the lawyer bring the challenge for you, or else contact the probate court clerk's office and ask how you challenge someone's application for this role.

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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