A special administrator is a temporary fiduciary appointed by the probate court in many states to marshal and preserve the assets when a delay is foreseen in appointing a permanent fiduciary. This may happen in the case of a contested will, problems serving notice on interested parties, and other situations. A special administrator can be appointed whether or not there’s a will.
Special administration when there’s a will
In the case of a will contest, a person having an interest in the estate can file a petition for special administration in the probate court, along with a certified copy of the death certificate. The petition must certify that copies of the petition and the death certificate have been sent to the Division of Medical Assistance by certified mail. The petition should also name exactly what powers are being requested.
Without specific court authority, the power of a special administrator is quite limited. If all interested parties assent to the petition, it can be allowed without having to publish a legal notice in a local newspaper. But, even without assents, the judge may allow the petition.
Although the named executor sometimes files the petition, in the case of a will contest there may be objections. In that case, a disinterested third party may be appointed. The period of appointment can be quite brief, up to 90 days. However, under unusual circumstances, the court may make an appointment for an indefinite period.
Check with your local court to see if special administration or its equivalent is available in your jurisdiction, and for the specific local requirements.
Special administration when there’s no will
If the decedent died intestate, special administration, or its equivalent, is the only form of temporary administration available. Temporary administration may be sought because of a delay in giving notice to all the interested parties. Temporary administration may also be sought because of a dispute over who is to be appointed as permanent administrator.
Special administration may be asked for to administer assets, or to open a safe deposit box. Check with your local court to see what type of special administration is available to you.