27th Feb 2013
Continuing to look at the Watson case [In the Matter of the Estates of Watson, 135 P. 3d 853, 2006 OK CIV APP 55 (Okla. Civ. App. 2006)], in addition to issues under Okla. Stat. tit. 58 §§ 125 and 124 involving questions about guardians (Part 7and Part 8) and appointment priorities (Part 9), the Court addressed the issues about a potential Administrator being incompetent by reason of improvidence under Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 126. A prior post looked at the general content of § 126.
In Watson, the trial Court appointed the guardian ad litem of a minor child of the decedent as Administrator over an adult child of the decedent. The trial Court pointed out that animosity between the two children made this arrangement better than appointing Co-Administrators or appointing the adult child alone. On appeal, both children raised several reasons why they should be appointed Administrator and why the other should not. One issue the minor child argued on appeal was that the trial Court’s finding on animosity disqualified the adult daughter from serving as Administrator due to the “improvidence” clause of § 126.
However, the Watson appellate Court disagreed, stating very clearly, “[i]mprovidence relates to a party’s inability to manage property and assets not to any feelings toward other heirs.” It cited Wyche v. Wyche 1961 OK 211 (Okla. 1961) which defined improvidence as, “want of care and foresight in the management of property which would be likely to render the estate and effects of the intestate unsafe and liable to be lost or diminished in value.”
One important practical application to draw from this line of cases is that in order to challenge the appointment of a potential Administrator of an estate on the grounds of improvidence, the challenger needs to present evidence to the Court of inability to handle money, carelessness in managing assets, likelihood of the estate suffering financial loss, and the like. Presenting evidence of the hatefulness of the potential Administrator and even their animosity toward the heirs will likely not be enough to have the Court find the potential Administrator incompetent by reason of improvidence under § 126.
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This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author – not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.