WEST virginia legislature
2017 regular session
Senate Bill 259
By Senators Trump and Cline
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary; reported on March 7, 2017]
A BILL to amend and reenact §44-1-1, §44-1-6, §44-1-7, §44-1-8, §44-1-14a and §44-1-26 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact §44-5-3 of said code, all relating generally to personal representatives of estates; waiving surety requirements for administrators of estates where grantee is sole beneficiary or sole distributee of the decedent; requiring county commission to hold hearing if application filed by interested party to compel nonresident executor otherwise exempt from bond requirements to post bond; requiring county commission to hold hearing if application filed by interested party to compel sole beneficiary to post surety; removing authority of clerk of county commission to require bond or surety upon knowledge; making executor or administrator not required to post surety liable upon his or her own personal recognizance in the event of default, failure or misadministration; requiring interested parties objecting to the qualifications of a personal representative or venue to file notice with the county commission sixty days after the date of first publication; authorizing action against bond surety when execution on judgment or decree against personal representative is returned without being satisfied; and making technical corrections.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §44-1-1, §44-1-6, §44-1-7, §44-1-8, §44-1-14a and §44-1-26 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that §44-5-3 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES.
§44-1-1. Executor has no powers before qualifying.
A person appointed by a will executor thereof shall not
have the powers of executor until he or she qualifies as such by taking
an oath and giving bond, unless not required to post bond by section eight
of this article, before the county
court commission in which
the will, or an authenticated copy thereof, is admitted to record, or before
the clerk thereof in vacation, except that he or she may provide for the
burial of the testator, pay reasonable funeral expenses and preserve the estate
§44-1-6. Bond and oath; termination of grant in certain cases.
At the time of the grant of
administration upon the estate of any intestate, the person to whom it is
granted shall, in the
court county commission or before the clerk
granting it, give bond, unless not required to post bond by section eight of
this article, and take an oath that the deceased has left no will so far as
he or she knows, and that he or she will faithfully perform the
duties of his the office to the best of his or her
judgment. If a will of the deceased be afterwards admitted to record, or if,
after administration is granted to a creditor or other person than a
distributee, any distributee who shall not have before refused shall apply for
administration, there may be a grant of probate or administration, after
reasonable notice to such creditor or other person theretofore appointed, in
like manner as if the former grant had not been made, and such former grant
shall thereupon cease.
§44-1-7. Penalty of bond.
(a) Every bond
of required to be given by an
executor or administrator shall be in a penalty equal, at the least, to the
full value of the personal estate of the deceased to be administered; and where
there is a will which authorizes the executor or administrator to sell real
estate, or receive the rents and profits thereof, the bond shall be in a
penalty equal, at the least, to the full value both of such personal estate and
of such real estate, or of such personal estate and of such rents and profits,
as the case may be.
(b) If on the filing of the
appraisement of the estate it shall appear that the penalty of the bond does
not comply as to amount with the foregoing requirements, the court county
commission in which, or the clerk before whom, such bond was given, shall
immediately notify such executor or administrator of such fact and require of
him or her a new or additional bond, and the failure of such executor or
administrator to give the same within a reasonable time shall be sufficient
cause for his or her removal.
§44-1-8. When executor or administrator not to give bond; when surety not required.
(a) Subject to the provisions of section three,
article five of this chapter governing the appointment of a nonresident of this
state as an executor, where the will directs that an executor shall not give
bond, it shall not be required of him or her, unless at the time the will is
admitted to probate or at any time subsequently, on the application of any
or from the knowledge of the court and after a
hearing, it is required by the county commission or clerk admitting the will
to probate, it is deemed proper that bond ought to be given.
(b) No surety shall be required on the bond of the executor if he or she is also the sole beneficiary of the decedent, unless the will directs otherwise, and no surety shall be required on the bond of the administrator if he or she is the sole distributee of the decedent, unless at the time the will is admitted to probate or the administrator is appointed or at any time thereafter, on the application of any person interested, and after a hearing, it is required by the county commission that surety ought to be given.
(c) In all such cases where no surety is required of the executor or administrator, the executor or administrator shall nevertheless be liable upon his or her bond upon his or her own personal recognizance in the event of default, failure or misadministration by the executor or administrator.
§44-1-14a. Notice of administration of estate; time limits for filing of objections; liability of personal representative.
(a) Within thirty days of the filing of the appraisement of any estate or within one hundred twenty days of the date of qualification of the personal representative if an appraisement is not filed as required in section fourteen of this article, the clerk of the county commission shall publish, once a week for two successive weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation within the county of the administration of the estate, a notice, which is to include:
(1) The name of the decedent;
(2) The name and address of the county commission before whom the proceedings are pending;
(3) The name and address of the personal representative;
(4) The name and address of any attorney representing the personal representative;
(5) The name and address of the fiduciary commissioner, if any;
(6) The date of first publication;
(7) A statement that claims against the estate must be filed within sixty days of the date of first publication in accordance with article two or article three-a of this chapter;
(8) A statement that any person seeking to impeach or establish a will must make a complaint in accordance with section eleven, twelve or thirteen, article five, chapter forty-one of this code;
(9) A statement that an interested person objecting to the qualifications of the personal representative or the venue or jurisdiction of the court must be filed with the county commission within sixty days after the date of first publication or thirty days of service of the notice, whichever is later; and
(10) If the appraisement of the assets of the estate shows the value to be $200,000 or less, exclusive of real estate specifically devised and nonprobate assets, or, if it appears to the clerk that there is only one beneficiary of the probate estate and that the beneficiary is competent at law, a statement substantially as follows: “Settlement of the estate of the following named decedents will proceed without reference to a fiduciary commissioner unless within sixty days from the first publication of this notice a reference is requested by a party in interest or an unpaid creditor files a claim and good cause is shown to support reference to a fiduciary commissioner”. If a party in interest requests the fiduciary commissioner to conclude the administration of the estate or an unpaid creditor files a claim, no further notice to creditors shall be published in the newspaper, and the personal representative shall be required to pay no further fees, except to the fiduciary commissioner for conducting any hearings, or performing any other duty as a fiduciary commissioner. The time period for filing claims against the estate shall expire upon the time period set out in the notice to creditors published by the clerk of the county commission as required in this subsection (a). If an unpaid creditor files a claim, the fiduciary commissioner shall conduct a hearing on the claim filed by the creditor, otherwise, the fiduciary commissioner shall conclude the administration of the estate as requested by the interested party.
(11) This notice shall be published as a Class II legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code. The publication of such notice shall be equivalent to personal service on creditors, distributees and legatees.
(b) If no appraisement is filed within the time period established pursuant to section fourteen of this article, the county clerk shall send a notice to the personal representative by first class mail, postage prepaid, indicating that the appraisement has not been filed.
(c) The personal representative shall promptly make a diligent search to determine the names and addresses of creditors of the decedent who are reasonably ascertainable.
(d) The personal representative shall, within sixty days after the date of first publication, serve a copy of the notice, published pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, by first class mail, postage prepaid or by personal service on the following persons:
(1) If the personal representative is not the decedent’s surviving spouse and not the sole beneficiary or sole heir, the decedent’s surviving spouse, if any;
(2) If there is a will and the personal representative is not the sole beneficiary, any beneficiaries;
(3) If there is not a will and the personal representative is not the sole heir, any heirs;
(4) The trustee of any trust in which the decedent was a grantor, if any; and
(5) All creditors identified under subsection (c) of this section, other than a creditor who filed a claim as provided in article two of this chapter or a creditor whose claim has been paid in full.
(e) Any person interested
in the estate who objects to the qualifications of the personal representative
or the venue or jurisdiction of the court, shall file notice of an objection
with the county commission within
ninety sixty days after the
date of the first publication as required in subsection (a) of this section or
within thirty days after service of the notice as required by subsection (d) of
this section, whichever is later. If an objection is not timely filed, the objection
is forever barred.
(f) A personal representative acting in good faith is not personally liable for serving notice under this section, notwithstanding a determination that notice was not required by this section. A personal representative acting in good faith who fails to serve the notice required by this section is not personally liable. The service of the notice in accordance with this subsection may not be construed to admit the validity or enforceability of a claim.
(g) The clerk of the county commission shall collect a fee of $20 for the publication of the notice required in this section.
(h) For purposes of this section, the term “beneficiary” means a person designated in a will to receive real or personal property.
§44-1-26. Action on bond of personal representative.
Where an execution on a judgment or decree against a
personal representative is returned without being satisfied, there may be
forthwith brought and prosecuted an action against the
in any bond given by such personal representative for the faithful
discharge of his or her duties.
ARTICLE 5. GENERAL PROVISIONS AS TO FIDUCIARIES.
§44-5-3. Appointment of nonresident; bond; service of notice and process; fees; penalty.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no individual who is a nonresident of this state, nor any banking institution which does not maintain a main office or branch office within this state nor any corporation having its principal office or place of business outside this state, may be appointed or act as executor, administrator, curator, testamentary guardian, guardian or conservator in this state, except that:
(1) An individual who is a nonresident of this state may be appointed ancillary administrator of a nonresident decedent’s assets situate in this state if such nonresident individual is lawfully acting as executor in said decedent’s state of domicile and submits letters of probate authenticated by the probate authorities of the decedent’s state of domicile to the clerk of the county commission of any county of this state wherein ancillary administration is sought;
(2) An individual who is a nonresident of this state may be appointed ancillary administrator of a nonresident decedent’s assets situate in this state if such nonresident individual is acting as administrator in said decedent’s state of domicile and submits letters of administration authenticated by the probate authorities of the decedent’s state of domicile to the clerk of the county commission of any county of this state wherein ancillary administration is sought;
(3) An individual who is a nonresident of this state may be appointed and act as testamentary guardian of a nonresident infant and thereby exercise dominion and control over such nonresident infant’s assets situate in this state upon submission of authenticated documentation that such nonresident testamentary guardian was so appointed at the place of domicile of the nonresident infant. Such authenticated documentation shall be submitted to the clerk of the county commission of any county of this state wherein assets belonging to such nonresident infant are situate;
(4) An individual who is a nonresident of this state and who is named executor by a resident decedent may qualify and act as executor in this state;
(5) An individual who is a nonresident of this state may be appointed and act as administrator of a resident decedent’s assets in this state if appointed in accordance with the provisions of section four, article one of this chapter;
(6) An individual who is a nonresident of this state may be appointed as the testamentary guardian of a resident infant if appointed in accordance with the provisions of section one, article ten of this chapter; and
(7) An individual who is a nonresident of this state may be appointed as guardian or conservator of a resident incompetent: Provided, That such appointment is made in accordance with the provisions of article two, chapter forty-four-a of this code and if such nonresident individual may otherwise qualify as guardian or conservator.
(b) Nonresident individuals enumerated in subsection (a) of this section shall give bond with corporate surety thereon, qualified to do business in this state, and the amount of such bond shall not be less than double the value of the personal assets and double the value of any real property authorized to be sold or double the value of any rents and profits from any real property which the nonresident individual is authorized to receive, except that:
(1) Any nonresident individual enumerated in subsection
(a) of this section who is the spouse, parent, sibling, lineal descendent or
sole beneficiary of a resident or nonresident decedent shall give bond with
corporate surety thereon qualified to do business in this state, with such penalty
as may be fixed pursuant to the provisions of
section sections seven
or eight, article one of this chapter, as approved by the clerk of the
(2) Where the terms of a decedent’s will directs that a nonresident individual enumerated in subdivisions (1), (3), (4) and (6), subsection (a) of this section named in a decedent’s will shall not give bond or give bond at a specified amount, it shall not be required or shall be required only to the extent required under the terms of the will, unless at the time the will is admitted to record or at any time subsequently, on the application of any person interested, or from the knowledge of the commission or clerk admitting the will to record, it is deemed proper that greater bond be given.
(c) When a nonresident individual is appointed as executor, administrator, testamentary guardian, guardian or conservator pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, said individual thereby constitutes the clerk of the county commission wherein such appointment was made as his or her true and lawful attorney-in-fact upon whom may be served all notices and process in any action or proceeding against him or her as executor, administrator, testamentary guardian, guardian or conservator or with respect to such estate, and such qualification shall be a manifestation of said nonresident individual’s agreement that any notice or process, which is served in the manner hereinafter provided in this subsection, shall be of the same legal force and validity as though such nonresident was personally served with notice and process within this state. Service shall be made by leaving the original and two copies of any notice or process together with a fee of $5 with the clerk of such county commission. The fee of $5 shall be deposited with the county treasurer. Such clerk shall thereupon endorse upon one copy thereof the day and hour of service and shall file such copy in his or her office and such service shall constitute personal service upon such nonresident: Provided, That the other copy of such notice or process shall be forthwith sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, deliver to addressee only, by said clerk or to such nonresident at the address last furnished by him or her to said clerk and either: (1) Such nonresident’s return receipt signed by him or her; or (2) the registered or certified mail bearing thereon the stamp of the post office department showing that delivery therefore was refused by such nonresident is appended to the original notice or process filed therewith in the office of the clerk of the county commission from which such notice or process was issued. No notice or process may be served on such clerk of the county commission or accepted by him or her less than thirty days before the return date thereof. The clerk of such county commission shall keep a record in his or her office of all such notices and processes and the day and hour of service thereof. The provision for service of notice or process herein provided is cumulative and nothing herein contained shall be construed as bar to service by publication where proper or the service of notice or process in any other lawful mode or manner.
(d) The personal estate of a resident decedent, infant or incompetent may not be removed from this state until the inventory or appraisement of that resident decedent’s, infant’s or incompetent’s assets have been filed and any new or additional bond required to satisfy the penalty specified in subsection (b) of this section has been furnished. The liability of a nonresident executor, administrator, testamentary guardian, guardian or conservator and of any such surety shall be joint and several and a civil action on any such bond may be instituted and maintained against the surety, notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, even though no civil action has been instituted against such nonresident.
(e) Any such nonresident who removes from this state assets administered in and situate in this state without complying with the provisions of this section, the provisions of article eleven of this chapter or any other requirement pertaining to fiduciaries generally, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or confined in the county jail for not more than one year, or, in the discretion of the court, by both such fine and confinement.
(f) If a nonresident appointed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section fails or refuses to file an accounting required by this chapter, and the failure continues for two months after the due date, he or she may, upon notice and hearing, be removed or subjected to any other appropriate order by the county commission, and if his or her failure or refusal to account continues for six months, he or she shall be removed by the county commission.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.