Personal Representative Of The Estate

The Personal Representative of the Estate is the person, bank or trust company appointed by the court to be in charge of administering a decedent’s estate. If the decedent had a valid Will, the court will appoint the person named in the Will to serve as the Personal Representative.

There are some qualifications that the Personal Representative must meet in order to serve:

  • They must be a resident of the State of Florida
  • They must be a spouse, parent, sibling or other close relative of the deceased
  • If a trust company will serve as Personal Representative of the Estate, it must be incorporated under the laws of Florida
  • In order for a bank or savings and loan to serve, it must be authorized and qualified to exercise fiduciary powers in Florida

Court Appointed Personal Representative

If the decedent did not have a Will, or it is lost or determined to be invalid, the court will appoint a Personal Representative of the Estate. A surviving spouse is the first choice to serve as the Personal Representative. If the decedent was not married or the spouse declines to serve as the Personal Representative, then the surviving heirs can elect a Personal Representative. The Personal Representative of the Estate is responsible for initiating probate proceedings. If there is no valid Will then any creditor or beneficiary of the estate can initiate the Probate process.

Some of the duties that the Personal Representative of the Estate are responsible for include:

  • Identifying which of the decedent’s assets are probate assets
  • Publishing a “Notice to Creditors” in the local newspaper that informs potential claimants that they should file claims against the estate
  • Pay any valid claims and object to claims that are not valid
  • File any final tax returns and pay any remaining taxes due
  • Ensure that the statutory amounts are paid to the decedent’s surviving spouse and family
  • Distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries

When Do You Need a Probate Lawyer?

If you are appointed to serve as the Personal Representative of the Estate you should have a probate lawyer to assist in administering the estate. Even the simplest probate proceedings will have legal issues arise which will be unfamiliar to non-attorneys. One of the purposes of probate is to make sure that creditors have the opportunity to file claims against the estate and an attorney who knows Florida Probate Law can help ensure that you fulfill all of your responsibilities under the law. This article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact an attorney in your local area for more information about Probate Law in Florida.

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