administration (of an estate)

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Administration of an estate means the management of the assets and liabilities of someone who has died. When a person has not designated a personal representative by will to deal with their estate upon death, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate of the deceased.

Appointment of a administrator may be governed by the laws of each state. For example, a provision of the Idaho Probate Code (Idaho Code §§ 15-312, 15-314 (repealed 1972)) read:

Administration of the estate of a person dying intestate must be granted to some one or more of the persons hereinafter mentioned, and they are respectively entitled thereto in the following order:

  • The surviving spouse or some competent person whom they may request to have appointed
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandchildren
  • Next of kin entitled to share in the distribution of the estate
  • Any of the kindred
  • The public administrator
  • The creditors of such person at the time of death
  • Any person legally competent
  • If the decedent was a member of a partnership at the time of their death, the surviving partner must in no case be appointed administrator of his estate

In the Supreme Court case,  Reed v. Reed  (1971) the Supreme Court held that a section of the Idaho Code which gave arbitrary preference of males over females to administer the estate violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment.

[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]