An "administrator" is often the term used to describe a person who oversees an estate that doesn't have an executor. An estate might not have an executor for various reasons. For example, the deceased may not have left a will, a court found the will invalid, or the will failed to name an executor. Court administration proceedings establish who inherits the estate based on the state's intestacy laws and appoint the administrator. Administration proceedings vary by state, but if you want to be appointed administrator of a loved one's estate, you'll typically need to file a petition in court first.
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Contact the surrogate or probate court of the county where the deceased lived or owned real estate. Estate proceedings usually take place in this county. Ask what is required to file an administration petition and how much the filing fees are.
Briefly review the values of the deceased's assets if you're not sure what the deceased owned. You will have to provide asset estimations on the administration petition. You'll need to be able to estimate the values of the deceased's personal property and real estate.
Go to the probate court. Bring the death certificate, certificate copy, filing fee, your identification and the asset estimates with you. Ask for a petition for administration.
Complete the petition. Petitions vary by county, but you usually must provide the deceased's name, birth date, death date, last address, asset estimations, and names and addresses of all living relatives, including children, parents and siblings. Answer all the questions on the petition.
Sign and date the petition. Ask the court clerk if there are notaries available in the court if you need your signature notarized.
File the petition and pay the filing fee. Follow any instructions from the court. You'll be required to send copies of the petition to all the relatives you listed by the method set by the court, such as certified mail.
- Original death certificate
- Certified death certificate copy
Tips & Warnings
Administration proceedings vary by state. Speak to an attorney if you're unsure about becoming an administrator or filing the petition.
Contact the vital statistics bureau of the state the person died in if you need a copy of the death certificate or haven't received the original yet.
Some states have simplified administration proceedings that allow a surviving relative to file a sworn statement to settle an estate, but only if the estate is under a specific dollar amount and doesn't involve real estate.
Omitting a relative on the petition can result in you losing your authority as administrator.
Confirm you have the right to act as administrator if you're unsure. Usually, an administrator must be a person with an interest in the estate, such as a surviving spouse, child or other family member. A creditor of the deceased may have the right to file for administrator as well. Check state laws regarding estate administration if you're uncertain about your standing.