If you have been appointed as a personal representative in Florida, you may be wondering what your duties and responsibilities are and how to do a good job. Although being a personal representative is not an easy task, it can be rewarding if you do it well.
Below, we will explain what a personal representative is, what they do, and how to be a good one.
What is a Personal Representative in Florida?
A personal representative is a person or entity that is chosen by the court to administer the estate of a deceased person (also known as the decedent).
The personal representative is responsible for:
- Identifying, gathering, valuing, and distributing the decedent’s assets,
- Paying the decedent’s debts and taxes, and
- Closing the estate.
The personal representative acts as a fiduciary, which means they must act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries.
Who Can Be a Personal Representative in Florida?
- If the decedent had a valid will, the person or entity named in the will has priority to serve as the personal representative.
- If the decedent did not have a will, or if the person named in the will cannot or does not want to serve, the court will appoint someone according to a statutory order of preference. Generally, this order is:
- The surviving spouse
- The person selected by a majority of the heirs
- The heir nearest in degree
- Any capable person appointed by the court
However, there are some restrictions on who can be a personal representative in Florida. For example, minors, convicted felons, and mentally or physically incapacitated persons are not eligible. Also, non-residents of Florida can only serve if they are related to the decedent by blood, marriage, or adoption.
What Does a Personal Representative Do?
The personal representative has many duties and obligations in the probate process. Some of the main tasks include:
- Filing the original will (if any) and a petition for administration with the probate court
- Publishing a notice to creditors in a local newspaper and serving a notice of administration to interested parties
- Locating and taking possession of the estate assets and preparing an inventory
- Obtaining appraisals of any property that needs to be valued
- Paying any valid claims against the estate, including debts, funeral expenses, taxes, and administration costs
- Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the will or the law, if there is no will
- Filing a final accounting and a petition for discharge with the court
How to Be a Good Personal Representative
Being a personal representative can be challenging and time-consuming. It requires attention to detail, organization, communication, and honesty.
Here are some tips on how to be a good personal representative in Florida:
- Seek professional help. You do not have to do everything by yourself. You can hire an attorney, an accountant, an appraiser, and other experts to assist you with your duties.
- Keep good records. You should keep track of all your actions and transactions as a personal representative. You should also prepare periodic accountings that show all the income and expenses of the estate.
- Communicate with the beneficiaries. You should keep the beneficiaries informed of your progress and any issues that arise during the administration, answer their questions promptly and respectfully, and provide them with copies of any important documents that affect their interests.
- Avoid conflicts of interest. You should act impartially and fairly towards all parties involved in the estate. You should not favor one beneficiary over another or use your position for your own benefit.
- Follow the law and the court orders. You should comply with all the legal requirements and deadlines that apply to your role as a personal representative and follow any instructions or orders given by the probate judge or court staff.
We Can Help You
If you have been appointed as a personal representative in Florida, Jurado & Associates, P.A. can help you.
We understand that being a personal representative can be stressful and overwhelming. That is why we are here to support you and make the process as smooth and easy as possible. We will work with you every step of the way. You can reach us by phone at (305) 921-0976, by email at [email protected], or by WhatsApp at +1 (305) 921-0976.