• April 24, 2022

What is a Special Administrator of an Estate? How They Differ from Personal Representatives

What is a Special Administrator of an Estate? How They Differ from Personal Representatives

What is a Special Administrator of an Estate? How They Differ from Personal Representatives 1024 682 Patrick J. Thomas Agency

Special administrators are used in times of need when an estate needs to be preserved and protected before a personal representative can be found and appointed. If no personal representative has been appointed, it can take time to get the right individual into the position, including getting approval by the court and obtaining the necessary surety bond. While this process is underway, a person close to the estate can step into a temporary role, known as the special administrator. 

The primary responsibility of a special administrator in Minnesota is to collect, manage, and preserve the estate’s assets. They generally have all the powers of a personal representative, but their role is temporary as it only acts as a special protection until the personal representative can be established. 

The role of a special administrator only ends when a personal representative is appointed or the special administrator becomes incapacitated, dies, or is removed for cause, or the special administrator is discharged. 

Who Can Be a Special Administrator?

If the estate has a will that names a personal representative, that person normally be named as the special administrator, providing they are able and qualified. If no will is attached to the estate, the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services dictates that “any person deemed proper upon petition may be appointed as special administrator.” 

How to Appoint a Special Administrator

Appointment for a Minnesota Special Administrator can be found in MN Stature Sec. 524.3-614. This statute details two types of appointments: formal and informal. A special administrator can be appointed “informally by the registrar on the application of any interested person when necessary to protect the estate… or if a prior appointment has been terminated” The court may require proper notice and even a hearing before the special administrator can be “informally” appointed. 

Formal appointments of a special administrator proceed by order of the court. These require a hearing where the court will determine if the special administrator is necessary to protect the assets of the estate. If the court determines that this is an “emergency situation,” they may alter or waive notice requirements. These formally appointed special administrators are used in situations where the personal representative cannot step in to fulfil their duties or if there is a significant conflict of interest, or if an immediate need arises from the state. 

The Difference Between a Special Administrator, Executor, and Personal Representative

In most cases, the terms executor and personal representative are used interchangeably. They are the person or organization responsible for compiling the assets of an estate, paying creditors, and distributing the remaining assets to the estate heirs. A special administrator is essentially a temporary executor. Their service is limited to resolving an emergency situation whereby an estate is left without an executor or personal representative. Special administrators are there to temporarily help gather and protect estate assets until a person can step into the role of a personal representative. 

Like any other position within an estate, a surety bond can be required before a person can become a special administrator. Because of the time-sensitive nature of special administrators, it’s important to obtain these bonds quickly. If you need a special administrator bond, contact the surety experts at The Patrick J. Thomas Agency today. 

Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.