As a Florida personal representative attorney can tell you, the role of closing out another person’s estate is known as probate and requires and individual to be appointed with the proper authority to handle all of the tasks under this umbrella. If you have recently been named as a personal representative in Florida or if there is no will and you believe that there is a possibility you could be appointed in this role, make sure that you have the opportunity to speak with a personal representative attorney in Florida about your responsibilities as well as your rights as outlined in Fla. Stat. § 733
Many people who are named as personal representatives in Florida do not realize the volume of the tasks they are undertaking. Most people who complete estate planning create a will, which names the personal representative known in some other states as an executor. The personal representative has a legal responsibility known as fiduciary duty to adhere to the best interests of the beneficiaries. Some of the tasks undertaken by a Florida personal representative include:
- Identifying, safeguarding and valuing the probate assets owned by the decedent.
- Publishing a notice to creditors in the newspaper to notify potential claimants to come forward with tehri claims.
- Providing a notice of administration about probate so that anyone who has an objection to the will or to the estate in general can come forward.
- Paying legitimate claims.
- Objecting to inappropriate claims.
- Paying any taxes due and submitting tax returns.
- Hiring professionals to assist with other aspects of the probate estate as needed, such as appraisers, investment advisors, attorneys and certified public accounts.
- Paying expenses associated with administering the estate.
- Distributing probate assets to beneficiaries.
- Paying statutory amounts to the decedent’s family or surviving spouse.
- Closing out the probate estate.
Who Can Serve as Personal Representative in Florida?
As a Florida personal representative attorney can tell you, this can be an individual or a trust or bank company with specific restrictions. In order to qualify to serve as personal representative the individual must be a Florida resident or a sibling, spouse, parent, child or other close relative of the decedent regardless of their residence. A person who is not closely related to the decedent and is not a legal resident of Florida cannot serve as a personal representative.
If there was a valid will in place the judge appoints the institution or person named by the decedent in that will to be the personal representative. In some cases, however, an individual might not have completed a will. If the decedent had a spouse the surviving spouse is a person with the first priority to be appointed in personal representative status. If the individual who passed away was not married at the time of their death or the surviving spouse of the decedent does exist but declines to serve, the institution or person selected by a majority of interested heirs will have the second right to be appointed.
Why Would a Personal Representative Need an Attorney?
Many personal representatives choose to undertake the role of carrying out probate on their own but this is not always recommended. A personal representative should consult with a qualified lawyer to assist with probate estate decedent administration as needed. There are many different legal issues that can arise and the attorney for the personal representative in Florida can advise them on tehri duties and rights under the law and can assist with all probate estate proceedings. If there is a statement inside the will that a particular firm or attorney be employed as the attorney for the personal representative, this is not binding, meaning that the appointed person has the right to choose their own legal counsel to assist them with this process.