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WILLS/TRUSTS 30: Bank cannot assert standing as a personal representative because the court held that it was not a successor co-personal representative.

Following the death of the decedent, B filed a petition in the probate court seeking intestate probate of the decedent’s estate and to be appointed the sole personal representative. Soon after, C Bank filed a petition in the probate court seeking to probate the decedent’s will and to be appointed co-personal representative of his estate.

Sole Personal Representative

The decedent’s will contain the following provision concerning who would serve as his personal representative: I nominate, constitute, and appoint B and N BANK as Co-Personal Representatives of this, my Last Will and Testament. If at any time either is unwilling or unable to act, then the other shall serve as sole Personal Representative

Following the execution of the will but prior to the decedent’s death, N Bank was acquired by C Bank. C Bank alleged that, as the corporate successor to N Bank, it was entitled to serve as co-personal representative. It submitted that state banking rules permitted the substitution. However, B asserted that she was entitled to serve as the sole personal representative because N Bank no longer existed, and the will did not provide for a successor to substitute for N Bank.

Fiduciary

C Bank alleged that there was a reason for the bank to serve in the role of co-personal representative because, as a fiduciary, it would ensure accountability and professionalism. On the contrary, B’s counsel claimed that, as the personal representative, she had secured the decedent’s property and sold it and would ensure that the stepchildren receive their share of the trust.

Following the hearing, the court entered an order appointing B as sole personal representative. The court stated that the will contained no language indicating the ‘successors and assigns’ of N Bank would act as Personal Representative if N Bank was unable to act.

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