Q: My sister was given an order naming her administrator of my deceased mother's estate (she left no will). Can I contest?
A: Yes. If you are serious about this, I HIGHLY recommend that you obtain an attorney to assist you with this process.
Generally, once an administrator is appointed, they can only be removed by cause as provided for in 755 ILCS 5/23-2 (the Illinois Probate Act). A representative may be removed by petition of an interested party or on the court's own motion. As one of the decedent’s children, you are an interested party.
There is one exception to the general rule that allows a court to revoke the letters of administration and issue new letters without a showing of cause as required under §23-2 of the Probate Act. This exception may very well apply to you. If the petitioner for letters of administration did not mail a copy of the petition to a person who is entitled to administer or nominate a person to administer equally with or in preference to the petitioner, then the person entitled to administer or nominate may, within three months from the date letters originally issued, file a petition seeking the issuance of new letters to himself or herself or to his or her nominee. 755 ILCS 5/9-7. At the hearing, with at least ten days' notice to the administrator, the court may revoke the letters previously issued and issue new letters. You are of an equal preference to your sister to be appointed as administrator, and therefore you were required to get this notice. If you did not receive it, then you can seek removal immediately.
The ability of the court to revoke and issue new letters within the guidelines set forth in §9-7 of the Probate Act does not preclude the removal of an administrator after three months under §23-2 of the Probate Act if the aggrieved party can show cause, such as the petitioner's failure to send appropriate notice when that information was available to the original petitioner. You can seek removal by filing a petition with the court if you can prove any of the following: (1) the representative is acting under letters secured by false pretenses; (2) the representative is adjudged a person subject to involuntary admission under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code [405 ILCS 5/1-100 et seq.] or is adjudged a disabled person; (3) the representative is convicted of a felony; (4) the representative wastes or mismanages the estate; (5) the representative conducts himself or herself in such a manner as to endanger any co-representative or the surety on the representative's bond; (6) the representative fails to give sufficient bond or security, counter security or a new bond, after being ordered by the court to do so; (7) the representative fails to file an inventory or accounting after being ordered by the court to do so; (8) the representative conceals himself or herself so that process cannot be served upon the representative or notice cannot be given to the representative;(9) the representative becomes incapable of or unsuitable for the discharge of the representative's duties; or (10) there is other good cause.
You should contact an attorney that specializes in this area of law. George Pecherek & Associates does. You can find us online at http://pecherek.com/.
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