The most common form of probate in Florida is formal administration. This process starts when the court appoints a personal representative to administer the decedent’s estate. In this article, you will discover what letters of administration are and why this document is crucial for probate in Florida.
What Happens After Letters of Administration Are Granted in Florida? – The Essentials
When a Florida resident dies, the decedent’s estate will likely go through probate. Please note that only assets titled in the decedent’s sole name or not exempt under state law are subject to probate.
The role of the personal representative is to serve as a point of contact between the court and the deceased’s estate. Also referred to as “executor,” the personal representative must uphold a fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries, acting only in their best interest.
During the administration process, the executor must follow the terms of the decedent’s will and execute the necessary actions with honesty, loyalty, and prudence.
To appoint the personal representative, the court must issue Letters of Administration. These legal documents grant the executor the right to act on behalf of the estate.
Florida Statutes §733.602 (2) expressly state that “a personal representative shall not be liable for any act of administration or distribution if the act was authorized at the time. Subject to other obligations of administration, a probated will is authority to administer and distribute the estate according to its terms.”
Once Letters of Administration are granted by the court, the personal representative has the power to execute the estate and will be able to continue the process.
What Happens After Letters of Administration Are Granted in Florida? – Step-by-Step
After the decedent’s will is deemed valid in court, the judge can appoint a personal representative by issuing Letters of Administration.
Under Florida Statutes §733.601, “the duties and powers of a personal representative commence upon appointment. The powers of a personal representative relate back in time to give acts by the person appointed, occurring before appointment and beneficial to the estate, the same effect as those occurring after appointment.”
In formal administration, the executor must file proof of the decedent’s death within three months from the date of the first publication of the notice to creditors. The executor must also file an oath of office.
Depending on the circumstances, the executor may need to furnish a bond to protect the individuals interested in the estate from any injuries from potential failures in administration. The bond can be waived if there is specific language in the will or a court order.
Once the executor is officially in charge of the estate, the next step is to serve notice of administration.
Florida Statutes §733.212 (1) require that “the personal representative shall promptly serve a copy of the notice of administration on the following persons who are known to the personal representative:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The trustee of any trust described in Fla. Stat.§ 733.707(3)
- Each qualified beneficiary of the trust as defined in Fla. Stat. §736.0103, if each trustee is also a personal representative of the estate, and
- Persons who may be entitled to exempt property”
Then, the executor must conduct the administration process to wrap up the decedent’s estate, pay any outstanding debts (valid claims only), file tax returns, pay administration expenses, and distribute the remaining assets to their rightful heirs.