In Florida, most probate proceedings begin once a court designates an individual or entity to execute the decedent’s estate. The executor (or personal representative) is responsible for administering the estate subject to probate.
Normally, the executor named by the court is the same person/entity named in the decedent’s last will. Nonetheless, what happens when someone dies without a will in Florida? In this article, you will find out who may serve as an executor or personal representative if there is no will in Florida.
Understanding Florida Intestacy Law – A Brief Overview
The term “intestacy” refers to the condition of the estate of someone who died without a will in Florida. The Florida Probate Code specifies that “any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by will passes to the decedent’s heirs as prescribed” in the code.
Additionally, the Code adds that “the decedent’s death is the event that vests the heirs’ right to the decedent’s intestate property.”
Who Becomes Executor If There is No Will in Florida? – Preference in Appointment
When someone dies intestacy in Florida, state law has detailed provisions governing the preference for the appointment of a personal representative to execute the decedent’s estate.
Primarily, the preference in appointment belongs to the decedent’s surviving spouse. In case the surviving spouse cannot or does not want to become the estate’s executor, preference passes to the person chosen by a majority of the estate’s heirs.
If the majority of the estate’s heirs do not select a representative to execute the estate, preference will be given to the individual most closely related to the deceased person – more often than not, adult children.
On rare occasions when there is not even one possible appointee, the probate court responsible for adjudicating the case may choose who they consider being the most qualified heir to serve as an executor during probate.
If the person meets the requirements to execute an intestate estate, he/she must file an Application for Administration pursuant to that specific estate. Accordingly, the application must be filled out with detailed information, including the applicant’s priority for being appointed the estate’s executor.
Applicants must seek guidance with an expert attorney to fill out and submit the application with Probate Division for the Circuit Court in the county where the intestate estate is being administered.
Who Cannot Serve as an Executor If There is No Will in Florida?
Overall, the criteria established by the Florida Probate Code for persons who can or cannot serve as executors in intestacy cases are virtually the same as the requirements for cases where there is a last will.
As provided by Florida Statutes §733.303, “a person is not qualified to act as a personal representative if the person:
- Has been convicted of a felony
- Has been convicted in any state or foreign jurisdiction of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly person or a disabled adult (as defined by Fla. Stat. §825.101)
- Is mentally or physically unable to perform the duties.
- Is under the age of 18 years”
Do You Want to Serve as an Executor to an Intestate Estate? – Call Your Florida Probate Lawyer Today
If you are interested in serving as an executor to an intestate estate in Florida, waste no time – call Attorneys Romy B. Jurado and Diana C. Collazos at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.