Last Updated October 29, 2017: How to Open An Estate When a Child is Missing.
From Our “Ask a Question” mailbag: How to Open An Estate When a Child is Missing.
“My mother died a resident of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania survived by her three sons. She had no will. One of my brothers has signed a renunciation giving me the right to serve as the Administrator. My other brother is homeless, and I don’t know where he is. What can I do?”
Administrator vs. Executor.
When someone has a Will they name the person in charge of their estate. In Pennsylvania, that person is the Executor. When there is no Will, the Register of Will instead appoints a person named the Administrator.
Because your mother had no Will and was not married, the relevant Pennsylvania Statute allows the Register to appoint as Administrator one of her children. Commonly, the children will agree on one person to serve. Those who don’t serve sign a document known as a “Renunciation.” This Renunciation is the evidence the Register needs as proof that the children agree on who is to serve.
What if a Child is Missing?
In your case, one of those brothers is not available to sign the renunciation. Because your brother has just as much right to serve as Administrator as you do, the Register will require that you prove that he is genuinely unavailable. As you can imagine, the Register sometimes has people who just lie about a sibling’s whereabouts to gain control over the estate. So, the Register cannot just take your word that your sibling is unavailable.
Contact the Register and see what proof your case requires. Depending on the facts, you may have to retain a search firm to seek your brother out. If you cannot provide adequate proof that your brother is missing, then the Register will likely require a hearing. Our Estate Litigation Attorneys regularly attend these conferences. So, we would be happy to represent you.
The Register Might Require a Bond’s Purchase.
Because there is no proof the heirs agree to your service, the Register might protect the estate by making you purchase a bond. This way, if you abscond with estate assets, the bonding company will replace the funds.
In conclusion, in this Post, I tried to address “How to Open An Estate When a Child is Missing.” So, let me know how I did. Comments and questions are welcome!
If you have further questions about Leigh County Probate or Leigh County Estate Administration, or any other questions about The Probate Process, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
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Author, Peter Klenk, Esq.