A personal representative is an individual who’s in charge of settling someone’s estate after they pass away. In other words, they’re appointed to oversee the distribution of assets and inheritance in probate court.
Personal representatives are sometimes referred to as executors/executrixes. They may also be referred to as administrators in cases where someone passes away without a will.
This article provides information on the function and duties of a personal representative, particularly, in Florida’s probate process.
The Main Duties of a Personal Representative
As previously stated, a personal representative is an individual approved by the court to carry out the administration of an estate. Their first duty involves opening a probate case by filing a petition for administration.
Other duties include:
- Gathering out-of-state assets
- Paying owed estate taxes
- Determine the creditors of the descendent
- Serve the Notice of Administration on all beneficiaries
- Distributing assets of the estate as stated in the will
- Closing the estate
In Florida, an attorney is required in almost every probate case. The state has very complex laws regarding probate and their laws on personal representatives are no exception.
As a result, personal representatives can, and should obtain legal council from an experienced probate lawyer to assist with the administration of an estate.
Who Can Serve as a Personal Representative?
In the state of Florida, almost anyone can serve as a personal representative. The only people excluded from this role are felons, minors, and people who are physically or mentally unable to carry out the duties.
There is, however, a statutory order of preference for representatives. If it’s a testate estate (an estate with a will), the order of preference is as follows:
- The individual selected by the will or nominated by the power conferred by the will
- The successor to the individual selected by the will
- The person selected by a majority interest of the people entitled to the estate
- The most qualified devisee under the will, selected by the court
- Any other capable person selected by the court
If the estate is intestate (without a will), the order of preference is as follows:
- The surviving spouse
- The person selected by the majority interest of the heirs
- The best-qualified heir chosen by the court
- Any capable person appointed by the court
Removal of a Personal Representative
If you believe a chosen personal representative is not fit to perform the duties in probate, there are steps that can be taken to remove the individual in that role.
You, as the petitioner, must prove to the court that the removal of the individual is in the best interest of the estate.
Examples of reasons to remove a person from their role include:
- Mismanagement of estate
- Breach of fiduciary duty
A person can also be removed from their role as a personal representative for non-fault issues, such as falling seriously ill.
Legal Help For Probate Issues
At Di Pietro Partners we represent personal representatives throughout the probate process. Our law firm has extensive experience with estate administration and other probate matters throughout the State of Florida.
We also have extensive experience in estate litigation cases involving the removal of a personal representative. In these cases, our team of trial lawyers are well equipped to advocate on your behalf and provide you with the best representation possible.