SECTION 3-313. UNIVERSAL SUCCESSION; APPLICATION; CONTENTS Uniform Probate Code
(a) An application to become universal successors by the heirs of an intestate or the residuary devisees under a will must be directed to the Registrar, signed by each applicant, and verified to be accurate and complete to the best of the applicant’s knowledge and belief as follows:
(1) An application by heirs of an intestate must contain the statements required by Section 3-301(a)(1) and (4)(A) and state that the applicants constitute all the heirs other than minors and incapacitated, protected, or unascertained persons.
(2) An application by residuary devisees under a will must be combined with a petition for informal probate if the will has not been admitted to probate in this state and must contain the statements required by Section 3-301(a)(1) and (2). If the will has been probated in this state, an application by residuary devisees must contain the statements required by Section 3-301(a)(2)(C). An application by residuary devisees must state that the applicants constitute the residuary devisees of the decedent other than any minors and incapacitated, protected, or unascertained persons. If the estate is partially intestate, all of the heirs other than minors and incapacitated, protected, or unascertained persons must join as applicants.
(b) The application must state whether letters of administration are outstanding, whether a petition for appointment of a personal representative of the decedent is pending in any court of
this state, and that the applicants waive their right to seek appointment of a personal representative.
(c) The application may describe in general terms the assets of the estate and must state that the applicants accept responsibility for the estate and assume personal liability for (i) taxes,(ii) debts of the decedent, (iii) claims against the decedent or the estate and (iv) distributions due other heirs, devisees, and persons entitled to property of the decedent as provided in Sections 3-316 through 3-322.
This section spells out in detail the form and requirements for application to the Registrar to become universal successors. The section requires the applicants to inform the Registrar whether the appointment of a personal representative has occurred or is pending in order to assure any administration is terminated before the application can be granted. The section requires applicants to waive their right to seek the appointment of a personal representative. The appointment of an executor would preclude or postpone universal succession by application for appointment unless the executor’s appointment is avoided because of lack of interest in the estate. See Sections 3-611, 3-912.
The statements in the application are verified by signing and filing and deemed to be under oath as provided in Section 1-310. Like other informal proceedings under the UPC, false statements constitute fraud (UPC Section 1-106).
Even though the presence of residuary devisees would seem to preclude partial intestacy (UPC Sections 2-605, 2-606), the last sentence of Section 3-313(a) regarding partial intestacy warns all parties that if there is a partial intestacy, the heirs must join. It avoids problems of determining whether the residuary takers are in all instances true residuary legatees, e.g., if a testator provides: “Lastly, I give 1/2 and only 1/2 of the rest of my estate to A.” (cf. UPC Section 2-603).
Section 3-313(c) provides that a general description of the assets may be included appropriate to the assets in the estate and adequate to inform the parties and the Registrar of the nature of the estate involved.
In the event an heir or residuary devisee were to disclaim prior to acceptance of the succession, those who would take in place of the disclaimant would be the successors who could apply to become universal successors. The disclaimant could not become a universal successor as to the disclaimed interest and would not be subject to liability as a universal successor.
Trustees of testamentary trusts have standing as devisees. If the trustee is a pecuniary
devisee or a specific devisee other than a residuary devisee, he would administer the trust upon receipt of the assets from the universal successors and as a devisee could enforce distribution from the universal successors.
The trustee who is a residuary legatee has standing to qualify as a universal successor by acceptance of the decedent’s assets, then to discharge the obligations of the universal successor, and finally to administer the residue under the trust without appointment of a personal representative. The will would be probated in any event. The residuary trustee could choose to insist on appointment of a personal representative and not seek universal succession. Neither alternative could alter the provisions of the residuary trust.