Can a personal representative for an estate make all decisions without consulting the heirs

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a personal representative for an estate make all decisions without consulting the heirs

Can a personal representative for an estate make all decisions without consulting the heirs. Are the heirs allowed to ask questions of the pr?

Asked on August 7, 2017 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The personal representative needs to act in accordance with the law, with the will (if any), and in the best interests of the heirs, but that's not the same thing as saying he has to consult with the heirs or follow their wishes. For example, the heirs may wish to keep and live in an inherited house, but if there are legitimate bills of the estate, the PR may have to sell the house and use it to pay those bills. While heirs may ask questions of him, he doesn't need to engage in a dialogue with them; again, he is obligated to (in order) obey the law; follow any will; and then act in the heir's best interest (and "best interest" is not the same thing as what they ask for or request).
If the heirs feel the PR is not obeying the law or will or acting in their interests, they could bring a legal action in chancery court seeking to have the PR defend his acts and to hold him accountable for anything improper he did. Ideally, heirs who want to consider this should consult with a probate attorney, but they would be allowed to bring the action themself, on a "pro se" (as own lawyer) basis; to do that, contact the court clerk's office to find out where to get instructions, a copy of the relevant rules, and possibly sample forms. (The court may also have this available online.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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