Photo of Andrew James Zeigler and John F. Kennel

Leave Your
Financial Worries In Our Hands

Can an heir be a personal representative of an estate?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Probate |

The question of whether an heir can serve as a personal representative of an estate, given their personal interest, is a common consideration during probate. Will their interest in the assets benefit the estate or will it merely cause issues and conflicts?

Relation is not a requirement nor a prohibition

In Ohio, anyone can be an executor or administrator of an estate as long as they meet the requirements, which generally include being of legal age and competent to take on the role. The law does not require an estate’s personal representative to be a family of the deceased, nor does it require them not to be related.

This means that anyone, even an heir, can be the executor or administrator of an estate. It is quite common for testators to name a family member or a relative as their executor. In cases where the deceased failed to name an executor, the court can consider surviving heirs as the estate’s administrator as long as they meet the qualifications.

When being an heir becomes an issue

A testator’s or a court’s choice to appoint an heir as an estate’s personal representative is often due to the heir’s personal interest to ensure the proper and efficient management of the estate, considering they stand to benefit from the estate’s assets. However, it is also equally important for them to be responsible and capable of handling legal, financial and administrative tasks.

If the estate’s personal representative, who happens to be an heir, acts against the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries, mismanages the assets or fail to be transparent, they may be subject to questioning and in worse cases, legal disputes.

Minimizing effects on probate

Disputes, including those relating to a personal representative’s integrity, transparency and fairness, are common in probate. Unfortunately, these can prolong the process, which may lead to additional costs and emotional distress. Nonetheless, it is possible to minimize these disputes’ effect on probate by familiarizing oneself with the law and seeking the assistance of a probate legal counsel when necessary.

FindLaw Network
NACBA | National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
American Board of Certification | Dignitas... Prodesse Publicae... Sollertia | 3 Stars
Super Lawyers
Rated By Super Lawyers | Rising Stars | John F. Kennel |
Rated By Super Lawyers | Rising Stars | Andrew James Zeigler |