The first post in this series looked at Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 122 and the basic order of priority for Administrators of estates of persons dying intestate (without a Will). The next post looked at Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 126 and a list of persons who cannot be appointed Administrator, even if they have general priority under the law.
This post focuses on this question: what if several persons have equal priority to be appointed Administrator under Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 122 and are not disqualified under Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 126.
The short answer: the Court has discretion. It can appoint one of the persons, all of the persons, or any combination of the persons. Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 124 reads in full: “[w]hen there are several persons equally entitled to the administration, the court may grant letters to one or more of them; and when a creditor is claiming letters, the court may, in its discretion, at the request of another creditor, grant letters to any other person legally competent.”
This statute again highlights the importance of choosing a person or persons to administer one’s estate through estate planning in advance. Consider the case of a parent who dies leaving four children, with their spouse having predeceased them. One of the children may be best able to handle administration of the estate, for instance based on their involvement in the family business. Or it may not be wise to have one of the children involved in administration of the estate, for instance based on a drug addiction.
If the issues were raised, it could be difficult for a Court with limited contact with the four children to determine if one of the children should not serve as Administrator, much less who the best choice or combination might be. Even if a Court decided to try to appoint the best person or eliminate a poor choice, it would require what would likely be difficult and contentious testimony and evidence (this sibling is “good” – this sibling is “bad”), and the Court could still make a poor decision. If the Court appointed all four children, a highly possible outcome if they all desired appointment, it could lead to a more difficult administration and greater tension among the siblings, particularly in the case described above where one of the children had a drug addiction. And any outcome would likely lead to a longer, more expensive administration process.
If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at firstname.lastname@example.org using any of our contact information in the profile. You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information.
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.