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General Laws

Section 3-703. [General Duties; Relation and Liability to Persons Interested in Estate; Standing to Sue.]

(a) A personal representative is a fiduciary who shall observe the standards of care applicable to trustees as described by chapter 203C. A personal representative shall have the duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of any probated and effective will and this code, and as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate. The personal representative shall use the authority conferred by this code, by the terms of the will, if any, and by any order in proceedings to which the personal representative is party for the best interests of successors to the estate.

(b) Subject to other obligations of administration, an informally probated will is authority to administer and distribute the estate according to its terms. An order of appointment of a personal representative, whether issued in informal or formal proceedings, is authority to distribute apparently intestate assets to the heirs of the decedent if, at the time of distribution, the personal representative is not aware of a pending testacy proceeding, a proceeding to vacate an order entered in an earlier testacy proceeding, a formal proceeding questioning appointment or fitness to continue, or a supervised administration proceeding. Nothing in this section shall affect the duty of the personal representative to administer and distribute the estate in accordance with the rights of claimants, the surviving spouse, any minor and dependent children and any pretermitted child of the decedent as described elsewhere in this code.

(c) Except as to proceedings which do not survive the death of the decedent, a personal representative of a decedent domiciled in the commonwealth at death has the same standing to sue and be sued in the courts of the commonwealth and the courts of any other jurisdiction as the decedent had immediately prior to death.

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