An Illinois decision makes it clear that an individual unrelated to the person who died (the decedent), may be appointed by the court to serve as administrator of the estate.
In re Estate of Gage involves a man with three children, whose mother he never married, who died without a will. The man’s sister petitioned the court to serve as administrator of his estate. The mother of the man’s three children also petitioned the court to serve as administrator.
The court appointed the mother as administrator based on the language of Article IX, Section 9-3 of the Probate Act which specifically gives the children of the decedent priority over the sister of the decedent as far as entitlement to obtain issuance of letters of administration. The court pointed to the language of the Probate Act which states:
“Only a person qualified to act as administrator under this Act may nominate, except that the guardian of the estate, if any, otherwise the guardian of the person, of a person who is not qualified to act as administrator solely because of minority or legal disability may nominate on behalf of the minor or disabled person in accordance with the order of preference set forth in this Section.”
In this case, the mother was the guardian of the three children and as such, the court ruled, had authority to nominate herself as administrator. The court further ruled that because the mother made her nomination on behalf of the decedent’s children, her nomination had priority over that of the sister of the decedent.
Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.