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When to Appoint a Special Administrator after Someone has Died

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If someone has died and there is an emergency about property, there is a solution. It is called a Special Administration.This blog discusses when to appoint a special administrator after someone has died. Some typical examples of when this is needed are:

a. If no one has access to the property to be able to look for a Will. Normally, if there is family around, the family be able to gain access to the house. However, if there is no family, a friend or fiduciary company may need to be appointed on a temporary basis (as a Special Administrator) to go onto the property and look for a Will.

b. If the family is fighting over family heirlooms and other personal property, it might be best to appoint a neutral third party to safeguard the property until a Personal Representative is appointed and until there is an agreement about how to divide things.

c. If the deceased person was obligated to do something (like complete the sale of a house), and a Personal Representative can’t be appointed in time for the closing.

These are just some examples that we see regularly. In any event, there is a solution. It will obviously increase the cost of the probate (because more documents need to be filed with the court and there needs to be at least one additional hearing).

Who can be appointed as Special Administrator? The Arizona statute (A.R.S. 14-3615) provides:

A. If a special administrator is to be appointed pending the probate of a will which is the subject of a pending application or petition for probate, the person named executor in the will shall be appointed if available, and qualified.

B. In other cases, any proper person may be appointed special administrator.

In other words, you appoint the person nominated in the Will. Otherwise, you can name “any proper person.” If the family is fighting, then the “proper person” is a neutral third party … preferably a licensed fiduciary.

You can see a video about this topic here. If you have any questions about special administrators, give us a call. And if you have any stories about special administrators or emergencies in probates, we would love to hear about them.


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