Appointment of Executor

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Prudence
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Appointment of Executor

Post by Prudence »

I posted a long topic a few days ago and received several helpful replies. But, I have at least one important unanswered question. We live in Maryland. What happens if a person dies with no will and no named personal representative? The register of wills says that the court will appoint a personal representative. But, what if no one including any relative wishes to take this appointment? My research indicates that anyone can refuse. Also, the court can appoint a person to do this; but, the estate in this situation does not have funds to pay an outside official or lawyer or whatever (the deceased was living on public assistance and had almost no assets except barely enough to cover funeral expenses). So, would the county handle this, including any costs to retain a personal representative?
Nowizard
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by Nowizard »

I did not see the earlier thread, but if the deceased had very limited assets, there may be no probate required.
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FIREchief
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by FIREchief »

As I understand this, many counties have a public administrator who eventually becomes the default/fall back for estates with no other executor. It will ultimately depend upon your state's laws and your particular county's courts. I've actually tried to get some feedback on this from a small circuit court in a rural county without a public administrator. I was basically told that I need to hire a lawyer to get answers. Not particularly helpful, but it was a hypothetical to prepare for possible future circumstances. In the situation you describe, I can't imagine why anybody would want to petition a court to serve as executor. I believe that if somebody feels compelled to fund a formal funeral, they can effectively place a lien on the estate with the county to eventually be repaid if/when the estate is settled and there are any funds available to pay creditors. Please see my signature.
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MrsBDG
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by MrsBDG »

We had a distant family member die in SoCal. The first beneficiary in line of succession (per CA rules) had the authority to appoint the county department (they have a department that does this stuff) as the estate representative. I have no idea if there was much left at the end, there had been a house, but it was red tagged and required hazmat. I know there were other beneficiaries of equal status as that primary, in terms of the percentage they would receive of the final proceeds, but the primary person had the authority to turn the estate handling over to the county, even if one of the co-beneficiaries had wanted to volunteer to become the executor.
aristotelian
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by aristotelian »

FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 12:20 pm As I understand this, many counties have a public administrator who eventually becomes the default/fall back for estates with no other executor.
Yep, I had this happen. Distant relative died intestate with no next of kin. We were his closest family and wanted to help with cremation but we had no authority to act on his behalf. Had to go to a public administator who in turn had to get appointed by the court. It took several months and the body sat at the funeral home the whole time.

This article was published at about that time: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/nyre ... -city.html
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FIREchief
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by FIREchief »

aristotelian wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 1:25 pm
FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 12:20 pm As I understand this, many counties have a public administrator who eventually becomes the default/fall back for estates with no other executor.
Yep, I had this happen. Distant relative died intestate with no next of kin. We were his closest family and wanted to help with cremation but we had no authority to act on his behalf. Had to go to a public administator who in turn had to get appointed by the court. It took several months and the body sat at the funeral home the whole time.
Just curious. Did you ask the courts if, as closest family, you could just authorize/pay for the cremation while the other stuff worked itself out?
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aristotelian
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by aristotelian »

FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 1:38 pm
aristotelian wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 1:25 pm
FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 12:20 pm As I understand this, many counties have a public administrator who eventually becomes the default/fall back for estates with no other executor.
Yep, I had this happen. Distant relative died intestate with no next of kin. We were his closest family and wanted to help with cremation but we had no authority to act on his behalf. Had to go to a public administator who in turn had to get appointed by the court. It took several months and the body sat at the funeral home the whole time.
Just curious. Did you ask the courts if, as closest family, you could just authorize/pay for the cremation while the other stuff worked itself out?
It was a while ago so the memory is fuzzy exactly where we got stuck. I believe the funeral home refused to do anything without a death certificate, and the ME would not release the death certificate to anyone other than next of kin. At that point we contacted the public administrator. I don't recall anyone suggesting that we go directly to the court so I'm not sure what would have happened had we tried.
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FIREchief
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by FIREchief »

aristotelian wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:13 pm
FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 1:38 pm
aristotelian wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 1:25 pm
FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 12:20 pm As I understand this, many counties have a public administrator who eventually becomes the default/fall back for estates with no other executor.
Yep, I had this happen. Distant relative died intestate with no next of kin. We were his closest family and wanted to help with cremation but we had no authority to act on his behalf. Had to go to a public administator who in turn had to get appointed by the court. It took several months and the body sat at the funeral home the whole time.
Just curious. Did you ask the courts if, as closest family, you could just authorize/pay for the cremation while the other stuff worked itself out?
It was a while ago so the memory is fuzzy exactly where we got stuck. I believe the funeral home refused to do anything without a death certificate, and the ME would not release the death certificate to anyone other than next of kin. At that point we contacted the public administrator. I don't recall anyone suggesting that we go directly to the court so I'm not sure what would have happened had we tried.
That's odd. I thought a death certificate was public record and that copies could easily be obtained at the county court house. :confused

Am I mistaken about that? Anybody?

Also, if all that is desired is a cremation, why would a funeral home need to be involved? I thought that bodies could just be delivered to a crematorium and the process completed without much effort. Also, if anybody thinks that I'm being morbid, this is exactly what I want to happen when God takes me home.
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senex
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by senex »

FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:18 pm That's odd. I thought a death certificate was public record and that copies could easily be obtained at the county court house. :confused

Am I mistaken about that? Anybody?

Also, if all that is desired is a cremation, why would a funeral home need to be involved? I thought that bodies could just be delivered to a crematorium and the process completed without much effort. Also, if anybody thinks that I'm being morbid, this is exactly what I want to happen when God takes me home.
Some vague memories, may be only partially correct:

Death cert is public record after it is filed, but they may have been unable to file it without a signature of next of kin.

I think you need a license to transport a corpse. And I think funeral homes are the main entities with that license. So I don't think anyone could actually deliver a body (or perhaps, the crematorium would not accept it) except from a licensed transporter.
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FIREchief
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by FIREchief »

senex wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:26 pm Death cert is public record after it is filed, but they may have been unable to file it without a signature of next of kin.
That's what's odd. Aristotelian indicated that he/she was the next of kin.
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aristotelian
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by aristotelian »

FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:28 pm
senex wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:26 pm Death cert is public record after it is filed, but they may have been unable to file it without a signature of next of kin.
That's what's odd. Aristotelian indicated that he/she was the next of kin.
No, we were not next of kin. He died with no next of kin. He was divorced from a family member.
Last edited by aristotelian on Thu May 21, 2020 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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FIREchief
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by FIREchief »

senex wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:26 pm I think you need a license to transport a corpse. And I think funeral homes are the main entities with that license. So I don't think anyone could actually deliver a body (or perhaps, the crematorium would not accept it) except from a licensed transporter.
I really don't know, but I would think that a crematorium would be among the first ones out there with the ability to arrange for transport to their facility. That said, it might vary by area of the country. There are some archaic laws out there, and in some areas of the Country the though of skipping all the funeral hubabaloo (along with the unbelievable amounts of money to be made by funeral homes from the grieving families) would be considered a grievous sin. In fact, I'm pretty sure some folks think that anything other than a formal burial in an expensive burial plot (with a fancy headstone that's nicer than the one on the next grave) is an awful thing. Fortunately, I now live in an area where celebration of life services/gatherings after the family has time to themselves is approaching the norm. Perhaps I'm a fan of a "Boglehead" end-of-life approach. 8-)
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FIREchief
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by FIREchief »

aristotelian wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:33 pm
FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:28 pm
senex wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:26 pm Death cert is public record after it is filed, but they may have been unable to file it without a signature of next of kin.
That's what's odd. Aristotelian indicated that he/she was the next of kin.
No, we were not next of kin. He died with no next of kin. He was divorced from a family member.
Sorry. This is what confused me.
aristotelian wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 1:25 pm We were his closest family
That said, if a death cert can't be filed without signature from next of kin, and there is no next of kin, I wonder what happens then? :?:
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aristotelian
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Re: Appointment of Executor

Post by aristotelian »

FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:37 pm
aristotelian wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:33 pm
FIREchief wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:28 pm
senex wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 2:26 pm Death cert is public record after it is filed, but they may have been unable to file it without a signature of next of kin.
That's what's odd. Aristotelian indicated that he/she was the next of kin.
No, we were not next of kin. He died with no next of kin. He was divorced from a family member.
Sorry. This is what confused me.
aristotelian wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 1:25 pm We were his closest family
That said, if a death cert can't be filed without signature from next of kin, and there is no next of kin, I wonder what happens then? :?:
Sorry, I use using family in the broad sense, not the legal sense. So yes, I think that is what happened and why we turned to the public administrator.
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