According to Wikipedia “Git Along, Little Dogies” is a traditional cowboy ballad that relates to herding cattle. Owen Wister first referenced this song in his 1893 journal, which led to its later publication. “The ‘dogies’ referred to in the song are runty or orphaned calves. However, the song’s exhortation for the calves to keep moving forward also holds true for the Personal Representative of an estate.
In an earlier blog post, “Tough Love for Fiduciaries” I discussed the Personal Representative’s duties in relation to the estate. RCW 11.48.010 states in pertinent part, “It shall be the duty of every personal representative to settle the estate, including the administration of any nonprobate assets within control of the personal representative under RCW 11.18.200, in his or her hands as rapidly and as quickly as possible, without sacrifice to the probate or nonprobate estate.”
Once a probate has been initiated in the King County Superior Court, the court sends out a notification to the appointed personal representatives. This notification contains the following language:
This probate action shall be prosecuted without delay; pursuant to RCW 11.48.010, the estate shall be settled as rapidly and as quickly as possible. RCW 11.76.010 requires that not less frequently than annually, a report of the affairs of the estate shall be filed with the court. At no such time shall the action go more than 12 months without case activity or reporting to the Court. For cases in which Personal Representative or Administrator are granted non-intervention powers, RCW 11.28.050 allows the Court to give notice to the personal representative to appear for a hearing at which the Court may consider grounds for removal such as, wrongfully neglecting the estate or neglecting to perform any acts as personal representative. Therefore, at no such time shall the action go more than 12 months without case activity or reporting to the Court.
Being a Personal Representative is a tough job. As you can see, neither the statute nor the court’s notice provides for exceptions due to being busy at work, grieving over the loss of a loved one, frustrations with the nightmares of COVID-19, or any of the other issues that a Personal Representative may be dealing with at the same time that they are managing the estate. To do the job properly, from the time a probate opens, a Personal Representative should make steady and demonstrable progress toward resolving any remaining open items in relation to the probate and bringing it closer to being able to be closed. If a personal representative fails to fulfill the requirements to “git along” with the probate, either a beneficiary or a creditor of the estate can bring a petition for their removal, or the court may seek removal independently, as indicated in the King County notice.
If you have questions about the requirements of serving as a personal representative, please let us know. We’d be happy to help.
This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.