Q: If my dad died without a will, can the probate court designate me as the executor?
A: You can petition the Probate Court to be appointed as personal representative, but if there is a contest, the Probate Code dictates whom must be given priority.
Priority of appointment of a “Personal Representative” of an estate (Maine’s term for the executor) is set in statute. According to 18-A M.R.S.A. Sec. 3-203, the order of priority is the surviving spouse of the person who died, the surviving domestic partner, other heirs (such as a child), and even a creditor of the estate (in that order). So, if your father is survived by a spouse or domestic partner, that person would have priority over you.
The fact that he died without a will does not matter; you would just need to apply to the Probate Court for appointment as Personal Representative for “Intestate Decedent” (someone who died without a will).
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