Court of Chancery Stays Appointment of Personal Representative Pending Register of Wills Decision

Delaware Fiduciary Litigation Blog

Posted June 15, 2022

In the matter of the Estate of Wilbert Octavis Mable, Sr., C.A. No. 2020-0089-PWG (June 10, 2022)

            In this case, a beneficiary sought (1) to have the current personal representative (Aikens) of the Estate removed and (2) to be appointed as the successor personal representative of the Estate.

            Aikens filed a petition at the New Castle County Register of Wills (Register) seeking to act as personal representative of the Estate and, as a result, was appointed in January of 2016.

            In March of 2019, after a period of inaction, the Register ordered that it would take no further action on the case. In February of 2020, the beneficiary-plaintiff filed a Register of Wills petition (“ROW Petition”), and also filed a petition in the Court of Chancery to have Aikens removed as personal representative (the “Chancery Petition”).

            In March of 2022, Aikens filed with the Register a request to resign as personal representative of the Estate. In May of 2022, the beneficiary-plaintiff submitted a letter to the Register asking to adjudicate the ROW Petition. The beneficiary-plaintiff also filed a letter in the Chancery action purporting that Court of Chancery Rule 207 provided the Court with a basis to appoint a successor personal representative as that rule allowed the Court of Chancery to adjudicate any petition relating to an estate matter.

            The Chancery Petition had initially sought both the removal of Aikens and the appointment of the beneficiary-plaintiff as personal representative. But, as Aikens voluntarily resigned as personal representative, the only remaining issue was the Court’s ability to appoint a successor personal representative. 

            Master Griffin concluded that “Rule 207 does not create a separate cause of action; rather, it lists various petitions authorized by other law related to estates and trusts that may be filed in this Court and confirms that they will be treated as civil action matters in this Court as opposed to civil miscellaneous matters.” Master Griffin then stated that the Register of Wills is responsible for matters regarding the appointment of personal representatives. In conclusion, Master Griffin recommended that the Court stay the matter before it until the Register of Wills resolves the petitions and issues regarding the Estate.


William M. Kelleher, Director
Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.
Tanner Updegraff