Skip to Content

General Laws

Section 3-203. [Priority Among Persons Seeking Appointment as Personal Representative.]

(a) Whether the proceedings are formal or informal, persons have priority for appointment in the following order:

(1) the person with priority as determined by a probated will including a person nominated by a power conferred in a will;

(2) the surviving spouse of the decedent who is a devisee of the decedent;

(3) other devisees of the decedent;

(4) the surviving spouse of the decedent;

(5) other heirs of the decedent;

(6) if there is no known spouse or next of kin, a public administrator appointed pursuant to chapter 194.

(b) An objection to an appointment can be made only in formal proceedings. In case of objection the priorities stated in (a) apply except that

(1) if the estate appears to be more than adequate to meet exemptions and costs of administration but inadequate to discharge anticipated unsecured claims, the court, on petition of creditors, may appoint any qualified person;

(2) in case of objection to appointment of a person other than one whose priority is determined by will by an heir or devisee appearing to have a substantial interest in the estate, the court may appoint a person who is acceptable to the heirs and devisees or, in default of agreement any suitable person.

(c) A person entitled to letters under (2) through (5) of (a) above, may nominate a qualified person to act as personal representative. Any person may renounce the right to nominate or to an appointment by appropriate writing filed with the court. When 2 or more persons share a priority, those of them who do not renounce shall concur in nominating another to act for them, or in applying for appointment.

(d) Conservators of the estates of protected persons, or if there is no conservator, any guardian except a guardian ad litem of a minor or incapacitated person, may exercise the same right to nominate, to object to another’s appointment, or to participate in determining the preference of a majority in interest of the heirs and devisees that the protected person or ward would have if qualified for appointment.

[Subsection (e) applicable as provided by 2012, 140, Sec. 66.]

(e) Appointment of a person with priority, a person who is nominated under subsection (c), or a person whose entitlement to appointment results from renunciation by another person with priority may be made in either formal or informal proceedings. Before formal appointment of one without priority, the court shall determine that those having priority, although provided notice of the proceedings, failed to request appointment or to nominate another for appointment and that administration is necessary.

(f) No person is qualified to serve as a personal representative:

(1) who is under the age of 18;

(2) whose appointment the court finds in formal proceedings to be contrary to the best interests of the estate.

(g) A personal representative appointed by a court of the decedent’s domicile has priority over all other persons except where the decedent’s will nominates different persons to be personal representative in the commonwealth and in the state of domicile. The domiciliary personal representative may nominate another, who shall have the same priority as the domiciliary personal representative.

(h) This section governs priority for appointment of a successor personal representative but shall not apply to the selection of a special personal representative.

Error