Appointing a Florida Personal Representative
Under Florida law, a personal representative is responsible for administering someone’s estate after they pass away. Personal representatives have a fiduciary duty to act in good faith, in the best interest of the decedent’s beneficiaries. Personal representatives also have a responsibility to be honest, and follow the terms of the decedent’s will, if they had one.
Who Can Be a Personal Representative?
In general, anyone whom the decedent appoints in their will who is 18 years of age or older, a resident of Florida, and does not possess a criminal record, can be appointed as someone’s personal representative. Courts tend to give significant preference to the decedent’s appointed personal representative. However, the choice is still assessed to ensure that the appointed individual is suitable to serve in the position. Additionally, the appointment can be viewed with scrutiny if there is any doubt as to whether the choice was made freely.
Florida state statutes dictate that in the event that there is no personal representative named in the will, or the named individual is found to be unsuitable for the position, preference for the personal representative goes to the individual favored by the majority of the beneficiaries. If this also fails to produce a suitable result, the final option considered is an heir. Having a solidly drafted will, executed by an experienced Florida probate attorney will help avoid any scrutiny and ensure that your true wishes are upheld, even after your death.
Challenging an Appointed Personal Representative
If you believe that a loved one was coerced, manipulated, or tricked into appointing someone inappropriate as their personal representative, or if you believe they may not have made this decision of sound mind, it is important to contact an experienced Florida probate attorney as soon as possible. Under Florida law, you only have three months to contest the personal representative from the date the notice of administration is received, so it’s important to take action as promptly as possible.
If you believe the appointed personal representative is inappropriate for different reasons, such as not being trustworthy, having a criminal history, or lacking necessary experience to fulfill the duties required by this position, a probate attorney can help you contest the appointment on this basis. Additional grounds for contesting the appointment include mental or physical incapacity that would make it impossible to adequately fulfill the required duties; possessing interests in conflict with the decedent’s estate; and proof of bad or immoral behavior.
How a West Palm Beach Probate Attorney Can Help
If you are making or updating a will, a probate attorney can help you select and appoint a personal representative to fulfill all of your after-life requests. By working with an experiencing attorney, you gain the certainty of knowing that your selection will hold up in court, and that your wishes will be honored.
If you want to challenge the appointed representative of a deceased loved one, a probate attorney can help you to contest the appointee and ensure that your loved ones’ true final intentions are heard and honored.
Let Us Help You
If you need legal assistance appointing or contesting a personal representative, a West Palm Beach probate attorney at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray can help. Schedule a free consultation today.