Our youngest sister was appointed as the legal administrator of my father’s estate when he passed away about a year ago. While we are trying to settle our father’s estate, one of our siblings found our father’s last will and testament. As a result, the same sibling who discovered the last will now claims that the appointment of our youngest sister as legal administrator is now invalid because of the presence of the last will. Some of our relatives also insist that my sister should already relinquish her appointment as administrator. My sister ignores their demands as she claims that the last will of our father must first be proven in court before she relinquishes her duty as the administrator of our father’s estate. Which of my siblings is legally right? Please advise us. More power!
An administrator of an estate is appointed by a court through a letter of administration wherein he is bound to comply with duties assigned to him set by law regarding the subject estate where the decedent died intestate (Former Associate Justice Florenz Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, 10th ed., 2004).
The appointment, however, is neither permanent nor absolute. The administrator’s authority may be revoked based on grounds provided by law. One ground in revoking the appointment is discovery of a will during an intestate proceeding.
According to Rule 82, Section 1 of the Rules of Courts:
“Section 1. Administration revoked if will discovered. Proceedings thereupon.—If after letters of administration having been granted on the estate of a decedent as if he had died intestate, his will is proved and allowed by the court, the letters of administration shall be revoked and all powers thereunder cease, and the administrator shall forthwith surrender the letters to the court, and render his account within such time as the court directs. Proceedings for the issuance of letters testamentary or of administration under the will shall be hereinbefore provided.” (Emphasis supplied)
Under this law, the letters of administration may be revoked by the court when the will has been admitted in a probate proceeding. This means that during settlement of an estate without a will, subsequent approval by the probate court on validity of a newly discovered will shall result in revocation of the previous appointment of the administrator.
The revocation of the letters of administration, however, will take place only after the discovered will has been admitted in a probate proceeding. This also means that the appointment of the administrator shall remain until the discovered will is admitted to probate. This is because mere discovery of a last will does not make it automatically effective. A will still needs to be admitted to probate in a court proceeding before it can have a legal effect on the estate of the deceased.
Thus, your sister will continue to be the administrator of your father’s estate even after the late discovery of his last will. Your sister’s appointment as administrator may be revoked only after your father’s will has been probated and approved by the court. Until your father’s last will is admitted to probate, your sister is legally entitled to remain as the administrator of your father’s estate.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org