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Trouble is, if she died intestate, an administrator would be appointed by the court and the administrator would follow the law which specifies that it goes 1/3 to each of her three children, and the administrator gets paid $20,000 from the estate for her troubles.

This isn't true for all jurisdictions. I am an administrator (and only heir) for an intestate estate. I could take fees for being the administrator but it isn't in my interest and isn't required.

The main problem with my mother's estate was that the probate judge was corrupt. She was finding many people who had valid wills had died intestate because of witnessing problems. She then appointed the daughter of a friend of hers to be administrator. She made a big mistake with my mother's estate because one of the beneficiaries of the estate was her church, a recognized charity in the state. And the Attorney General of the state is automatically the attorney in such matters in the case of charities, and at the time, he was Elliot Spitzer who (whatever his other problems may have been) was a pretty good attorney general. He declared that my mother's was a valid one and would not allow the will to be settled as provided in case of people who died intestate, because then the church would get nothing. The A.G. and the lawyer who would be my mother's executor agreed to get the administrator fired (with no $20,000 fee), and my mother's desired executor would be appointed administrator. We (my sisters and I) all agreed and signed notarized statements that we would give 1/3 of what we got to the church. A nice consequence of all that was that the amount I gave to the church qualified as a deduction from my income tax. My sisters could not do this since they were living as citizens of the countries in which they had been living.

I wish I knew what happened to that judge. It was not so simple (separation of powers) that the a.g. could just fire her. I supposed he had to get her impeached and convicted, then tried in criminal court and convicted again.

When my mother's administrator took the entire check to the church, the minister broke into tears. It was the largest single donation that church had ever received.
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