Who has the right to administer an estate?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Who has the right to administer an estate?

My grandmother passed away a while ago and her home sits vacant. Her children, my mother and my uncle, refuse to do anything with her estate in fear that they have to pay for things out of their own pocket. Is there anything that I can do on the estate as her grandchild if no one else wants to?

Asked on December 4, 2018 under Estate Planning, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If there is a will, the person(s) named in the will as executor will administer the estate.
If there is no will and no other family member wants the role, you can apply to the probate court (in the county where your grandmother lived) to be be appointed the "administrator" or "personal representative" for the estate--this is basically the executor when there is no will. Once the court appoints you, which they should if no closer family member contests it, you will have the authority over the estate. 
And to confirm: the admininstrator or personal representative does NOT have to pay anything out of pocket: all expenses come out of estate funds.

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