In the District of Columbia, a personal representative of an estate is also known as an executor or administrator. The process for becoming a personal representative depends on whether the decedent (the person who has died) had a valid will.
If the decedent had a valid will that names an executor, the named executor can petition the court to be appointed as the personal representative of the estate, according to Section 20-101 of the District of Columbia Code. The executor will need to file a petition with the court and provide a copy of the will and any other required documents, such as a death certificate. The court will hold a hearing to determine whether the executor is qualified to serve in this role.
If the decedent did not have a valid will or did not name an executor, any interested person can petition the court to be appointed as the administrator of the estate, according to Section 20-102 of the District of Columbia Code. The petitioner will need to file a petition with the court and provide any required documents, such as a death certificate. The court will hold a hearing to determine whether the petitioner is qualified to serve as the administrator.
In either case, the court will appoint the personal representative (either the executor or administrator) after considering the wishes of the decedent (if known), the qualifications of the proposed personal representative, and any other relevant factors, according to Section 20-103 of the District of Columbia Code. The personal representative has the authority to manage the assets of the estate, pay the debts of the decedent, and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or state law.
It's important to note that the personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate and must act in their best interests, according to Section 20-201 of the District of Columbia Code. The personal representative must also follow the probate process and meet any other legal requirements in the District of Columbia, including filing the appropriate forms with the court.
This is not legal advice, if you have question of concerns regarding probating a estate in D.C., please schedule an consultation with our office at (202) 499-2403 or 1(833) CALLJKW (255-5559).