Code of the District of Columbia

§ 20–741. General powers.

Except as otherwise validly limited by the will, this title, or by an order of Court made in accordance with this title, a personal representative may, in addition to any power or authority contained in the will and any other common-law or statutory power, properly:

(1) take possession of and hold assets owned by the decedent pending distribution or liquidation, including those in which the representative is personally interested or which are otherwise improper for trust investment;

(2) receive assets from fiduciaries or other sources;

(3) perform the decedent’s contracts that continue as obligations of the estate, and execute and deliver such deeds or other documents under such circumstances as the contract may provide, unless the personal representative personally is a party by the terms of the contract;

(4) satisfy written charitable pledges of the decedent, which by their terms survive the death of the decedent;

(5) deposit funds for the account of the estate, including moneys received from the sale of other assets, in federally insured checking accounts, in federally insured interest-bearing accounts or in federally insured short-term loan arrangements, or in accounts or short-term investment trusts administered pursuant to, or in compliance with, the regulations of the United States Comptroller of the Currency, or at the request of the personal representative, agree to deposit any of the assets of the estate with any financial institution in such a manner that the assets cannot be withdrawn or transferred without (A) the written consent of the surety on the bonds or (B) an order of Court; deposits under this subsection shall be made in financial institutions within the District of Columbia or in any state that permits personal representatives to make deposits in the District of Columbia;

(6) acquire or dispose of property, real or personal, including land in this or another jurisdiction, for cash or on credit, at public or private sale; and manage, develop, improve, exchange, partition, change the character of, or abandon an estate asset;

(7) make ordinary or extraordinary repairs or alterations in buildings or other structures, demolish any improvements, raze existing, or erect new, party walls or buildings;

(8) subdivide, develop or dedicate land to public use; make or obtain the vacation of plats and adjust boundaries; adjust differences in valuation on exchange or partition by giving or receiving consideration; or dedicate easements to public use without consideration;

(9) enter for any purpose into a lease as lessor or lessee, with or without the option to purchase or renew, for a term within or extending beyond the period of administration;

(10) vote stocks or other securities in person or by general or limited proxy;

(11) hold a security in bearer form or in the name of a nominee, but, in such case, the personal representative shall be liable for any act of the nominee in connection with the security so held;

(12) obtain insurance to protect the property of the estate against damage, loss, and liability, and to protect the personal representative against liability to third persons;

(13) effect a fair and reasonable compromise with any creditor or obligee;

(14) pay taxes, assessments, and compensation of the personal representative, and other expenses incident to the administration of the estate;

(15) sell or exercise stock subscription, conversion or option rights; consent to or oppose, directly or through a committee or other agent, the reorganization, consolidation, merger, dissolution, or liquidation of a corporation or other business enterprise;

(16) pay the decedent’s funeral expenses including the cost of burial space and a suitable tombstone or marker, not exceeding $5,000, except as provided in sections 20-906 and 20-907;

(17) employ, for reasonable compensation, accountants, auditors, investment or financial advisors, attorneys, appraisers, brokers, or other persons with special skills to advise or assist the personal representative in the performance of such representative’s administrative duties, and to pay them reasonable compensation and reimbursement for costs incurred;

(18) prosecute or defend or submit to arbitration actions, claims, or proceedings in any appropriate jurisdiction for the benefit of the estate, including the commencement of any personal action that the decedent might have commenced, or to compromise, arbitrate, settle, or otherwise adjust any claims, charges, debts, or demands against or in favor of the estate;

(19) continue unincorporated businesses or ventures in which the decedent was engaged at the time of death (A) in the same business form for a period of not more than 4 months after the representative’s appointment if continuation is a reasonable means of preserving the value of the business, including goodwill; provided, that the personal representative shall file a bimonthly statement of income and expenses and a balance sheet with the Register; and (B) throughout the period of administration if the business is incorporated after the death of the decedent in accordance with paragraph (20) of this section;

(20) incorporate businesses or ventures in which the decedent was engaged at the time of death if none of the probable distributees of the business who are competent adults object to its incorporation and retention in the estate;

(21) exercise options, rights, and privileges contained in any life insurance policy, annuity, or endorsement contract constituting property of the estate, including the right to obtain the cash surrender value, convert any such policy to any other type of policy, revoke any mode of settlement, and pay any part or all of the premiums on any such policy or contract;

(22) pay valid claims and distribute the estate as provided in this title;

(23) release or terminate mortgages or security interests, if the obligation secured by the mortgage or security interest was fully satisfied during the decedent’s lifetime or during the administration of the estate;

(24) make partial distributions, in cash, in kind, or both, from time to time during the administration;

(25) invest in any real or personal property of the estate; lease, exchange, grant options to purchase, or sell any real or personal property of the estate (except property specifically devised or bequeathed under the will), at public or private sale, for cash or on credit, with or without security; and borrow money for the purpose of protecting real or personal property (and pledge property as security for such loan);

(26) terminate, sublet, or assign a leasehold estate of the decedent which was the decedent’s actual residence;

(27) designate the personal representative on any document as an executor, if the decedent died testate, or as an administrator, if the decedent died intestate;

(28) continue any unincorporated businesses or ventures in which the decedent was engaged at the time of his or her death (A) in the same business form for a period of not more than 4 months from the date of appointment of the personal representative if continuation is a reasonable means of preserving the value of the business, including good will; (B) in the same business form for any additional period of time that may be approved by order of the Court after notice to the interested persons; or (C) throughout the period of administration if the business is incorporated after decedent’s death in accordance with paragraph (20) of this section; and

(29) provide for exoneration of the personal representative from personal liability in any contract entered into on behalf of the estate.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155; Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-241, § 3(zz), 42 DCR 63.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-741.

Cross References

Retail service station, transfer rights, see § 36-303.05.