2nd Oct 2018
The prior blog post made this main point: if you die without a will (or a trust or other estate planning) like Aretha Franklin, you will not ultimately control who your property passes to at death.
This blog post focuses on another key issue: if you die without a will (or a trust or other estate planning) like Aretha Franklin, you will not ultimately control who is in charge of your estate.
When someone dies, there are a number of formal and informal thing that that need to be taken care of, such as:
-dealing with outstanding bills and debts;
– winding down or managing ongoing business and personal affairs;
– filing final income tax returns and making sure all other taxes are paid; and
– making sure property of the deceased is gathered up, protected, and distributed properly to the new owners.
One of the key aspects of making a last will and testament is to name someone who is competent and trustworthy to manage those responsibilities.
This is an area where the terminology can be a little confusing. Basically, the term “Personal Representative” usually indicates someone named in a will. An “Administrator” is usually a term for someone appointed to manage an estate where there is no will. “Executor” is a more general word that can often apply to both situations. “Trustee” is the person who acts under a trust document.
Intestacy (No Will)
As discussed in the prior post, if you do no designate how your property will pass under a will, in Oklahoma, the State creates a system of distribution for you. Similarly, if you do not designate who is in charge of your estate, in Oklahoma, the State has a list of persons who should have priority. (This blog contains a muli-part series on those issues beginning at that page and going forward.) There is also a list of who cannot serve. Ultimately this is a decision determined by a Judge. And in particular if there is a dispute, there will likely be testimony and evidence on the issue.
Example of Agreement
Using the Aretha Franklin case as an example, in Oklahoma, it appears her children would have had priority to be appointed Administrators (no will). Interesting issues arise in situations like that such as: whether they were all four qualified, whether they wanted to or could work together, whether there would have to be compensation or bonding, whether they could agree on the professionals to be involved, and even whether someone else might have more priority – such as an arguable common law spouse. It is reported Aretha Franklin’s children agreed to have a third party – her niece – administer the estate and there have not been a lot of issues raised.
This post cannot, of course, cover all the issues and law, but hopefully it is a helpful reminder of the main point: if you die without a will, you will not ultimately control who is in charge of your estate.
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 or 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.