Requirements for Personal Representatives in DC
There are certain requirements for personal representatives in DC. Understanding them can help you make sure you are qualified to serve in the role and that you are fulfilling your duty properly. A well-versed attorney can outline the role and requirements of a personal representative.
Does the Personal Representative Need to Be Blood-Related?
DC law defines a blood relation as a biological relation. Examples include children, parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews. There is no requirement in DC that the personal representative be related by blood to the decedent. The decedent has the right to nominate anyone they wish to serve as personal representative. It could be a friend, an attorney, or another professional advisor. However, if a decedent dies without a valid Last Will and Testament than the DC laws of intestacy provide for an order of priority of individuals that may serve.
Step-Children and Adopted Children
In the context of eligibility or priority for serving as a personal representative under DC law, adopted children and stepchildren are viewed differently. An adopted child would have the same priority to serve as a personal representative as any other child of the decedent. In other words, if a decedent died with no surviving spouse and had two biological children and one legally adopted child, all three children would have equal priority to serve as personal representative. On the other hand, if the decedent died with no surviving spouse and had two biological children and one stepchild, the two biological children would have priority to serve over the stepchild, because stepchildren are not viewed the same as biological children.
Requirements for Non-DC Residents
A non-resident can petition the court in DC to become a personal representative because there is no requirement that the person resides in DC. As part of the petition to open the estate and become appointed personal representative, however, the non-resident petitioner must sign a power of attorney that indicates to the court that the person has appointed a register of will in DC to be the person who can be served on behalf of that person. That means they are amenable and willing to have the court represent them.
Prohibitions for Representatives
The ethical guidelines for a personal representative are their fiduciary obligation to the estate, goals, and duties. They must take actions that are in the best interest of the estate and not the heirs or beneficiaries. Further, a personal representative is prohibited from mismanaging estate assets, co-mingling estate assets with their own personal assets, and doing anything that would indicate the estate assets are not being adequately protected.
A clear abuse of power by a personal representative would be straying from their duties. That may include not distributing the assets pursuant to the decedent’s last will and testament, distributing assets that do not follow the distribution pattern pursuant to the laws of intestacy, or misusing or mismanaging estate funds. An attorney can further explain the role and obligations of a personal representative in Washington, DC.
Speak to an Attorney about the Requirements for Personal Representatives in DC
It is important to understand the requirements for personal representatives in DC. To discuss the role with a qualified attorney, call today for a consultation.