In Illinois, a representative will usually be appointed where an estate needs to be administered according to the terms and provisions of a decedent’s will. After letters of administration are issued authorizing an estate representative to administer a decedent’s estate, certain duties and responsibilities attach to the representative.

As a fiduciary, the estate’s representative is obliged to act for the benefit of the estate in good faith, with due care and loyalty. Accordingly, estate representatives should not let their personal interests or opportunities for gain influence their decisions in connection with the administration of the estate.

According to Illinois law, there are circumstances necessitating the removal of a representative. In such cases, a person with standing may petition the court for removal of the representative. A representative may be removed if he or she is a felon; refuses to obey a court’s order to provide an inventory, accounting, or bond; obtained letters of administration based on false information; cannot administer the estate; commits waste or maladministration of the estate; or intentionally avoids service of process. Furthermore, the statute contains a catchall provision that the representative may be removed if “there is other good cause.”

In a pamphlet published by the Illinois Bar Association, estate representatives are provided with a list of duties pertaining to property, financial matters, and the court. Appointment as an estate representative is not for everyone.

During the estate planning process, clients and attorneys should be able to have honest and open discussions about who can adequately serve as representatives, because duties placed upon a representative cannot be shirked, ignored, or otherwise neglected.