20th Oct 2012
This post continues to look more closely 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)] and some important issues it dealt with regarding the law with respect to Administrators in probate.
In the Watson case, one of the decedents was a father of two daughters – from two different mothers. One of the daughters was an adult, and one was a minor. The minor daughter had a guardian ad litem, but no other type of guardian.
The adult daughter argued that a guardian ad litem did not qualify as a guardian under Okla. Stat.tit. 58 § 125 – which the Court rejected, as looked at two posts ago. The trial Court appointed the guardian ad litem of the minor daughter as the Administrator of the estate, and the appellate Court upheld this appointment. The Court also continued its tradition of requiring a guardian appointed in Oklahoma – not another state, as looked at in the last post.
Another issue raised by the adult daughter is that because she was also a daughter, she had equal right with the minor daughter / her guardian ad litem to serve as Administrator.
However, the Court pointed out that under Okla. tit. 58 § Stat. 124, “[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 was addressed in earlier posts in this series, and this particular issue was addressed in Part 3 of this series. The Watson case is a concrete example of those principles previously discussed.
The appellate Court stated that the trial Court had three options: 1) appoint guardian ad litem of minor daughter only as Administrator; 2) appoint adult daughter only as Administrator; and 3) appoint guardian ad litem of minor daughter and adult daughter as Co-Administrators. Each is equally permissible under the law. Each is in the Court’s sole discretion.
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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.