Q: My roommate passed away, left an 8 year old daughter and no will. Does the guardian have right to assets?
My roommate has passed away and has left behind her 8 year old daughter, whom her father has full custody of. My roommates mother is trying to capitalize on her assets and become the personal representative of her estate. Can she do this? We know that she will not give remaining assets to my roommates daughter.
A: It isn't clear from the question whether the father was still married to your roommate. If he was, he would be first preference for Personal Representative if he wanted to be, but, if not, the mother is likely the first preference. RCW 11.28.120 (http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=11.28.120).
That being said, the personal representative has to distribute the assets according to the laws of intestacy. If there was no spouse, everything goes to the child(ren). RCW 11.04.015 (http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=11.04.015).
If the father has some reason to believe that the mother is going to violate the law or if he wants to object to her appointment, I would recommend discussing it with a probate attorney. Ideally, it would be good for everyone to be on the same page before probate is opened. It can substantially drain the assets of the estate if everything is going to have to be monitored and/or contested.
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