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The person who quali es and accepts the appointment is called an administrator (or administratrix) CTA (cum testamento annexo, ie, with the will annexed ) The administrator CTA has the same duties and powers as an executor and looks to the will for authority to act (g) PROBATE PROCEDURES: INTESTACY The death of a person without a will necessitates the appointment of an administrator As mentioned above, appointments are made by interested parties petitioning the court and the court appointing the rst person who can qualify in the order of priority outlined under state law Letters of administration are issued after compliance with the governing statutes The administrator must distribute the estate in accordance with the laws of intestacy of the state in which he is appointed (h) SETTLEMENT OF SMALL ESTATES Most state statutes provide special rules for the settlement of small estates with either no court administrative involvement or some form of an abbreviated procedure The de nition of small depends on the gross value of the estate These values can be as low as $5,000 to $15,000, or as high as $50,000 to $60,000 Utilization of these special rules results in greatly reduced administration costs and a quicker settlement of the estate (i) FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITIES (i) Executor versus Administrator Although the executor s powers and duties come primarily from the will and secondarily from state law if the will is silent, the administrator of a person dying intestate must look solely to state law for authority to act The term personal representative or simply representative as used in this section encompasses both executors and administrators The term duciary includes executors, administrators, guardians, and trustees (ii) General Duties of Representatives Duties of a representative, stated generally, are to collect the decedent s assets, pay creditors, account for all income and expenses, and distribute the assets remaining according to the provisions of the will or in accordance with state law in the absence of will provisions In the performance of these duties, the personal representative must use the reasonable man rule, that is, duties must be exercised with the prudence a reasonable person would exercise with his own property The representative does not guarantee estate assets against loss However, he is responsible for acting reasonably and can be asked to make good estate losses should he fail to act reasonably Since the representative is not required to possess the expertise of an accountant, attorney, or investment counselor (although a decedent may often name such a professional in the will), a representative acting in a reasonable manner should determine whether the will or state law authorizes the retention of such advisers whenever necessary (iii) Preliminary Administration Often a death is sudden and unexpected Determining whether the decedent left a will is sometimes a problem Finding it and determining whether it is the last will executed may be even bigger problems A careful search must be made of the decedent s personal papers If the decedent had an attorney, accountant, banker, or insurance broker, the person may be helpful in ascertaining the existence of a will and locating it The importance of the will lies not only in carrying out the decedent s plan for distribution of his assets, but also in determining the persons named as executors, trustees, and guardians of minors or others incapable of caring for themselves Administration of the estate must begin, however, at the moment of death There are too many important acts, such as carrying out the decedent s instructions for bodily organ donations, arranging for the funeral, and safeguarding valuable or perishable assets, to await the location of the will or formal appointment of a representative Someone must take responsibility at once Should it later turn out that another person was named executor or appointed administrator, an orderly transition of authority can be made
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