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Personal Representatives

A personal representative is someone who is placed in charge of settling your estate once you pass away. You may hear the term executor as well. In most cases, the personal representative is named, or nominated, in the last will.

Appointing a Personal Representative

A personal representative is not appointed until the court approves the request. In most cases, the court will honor the deceased’s wishes on who they want to serve, provided the person is alive and able to serve. The court could appoint someone else if the named executor is not allowed to serve.

Perhaps they don’t meet the legal qualifications, or are not yet of legal age, or maybe they suffered some mental decline that would prevent them from carrying out their duties. Someone who was convicted of a crime in the past also won’t be allowed to serve. Trust companies are prohibited from serving as well if they don’t have fiduciary power in Florida.

What’s important to know is that Florida doesn’t allow someone to serve as a personal representative unless they are related by blood or marriage, or if not, he or she is a resident of Florida.

Getting the appointment can be easy or it can be difficult, depending on a variety of factors. Some of these can revolve around other family members or a spouse who are upset they were not named. Someone who wants to challenge the named executor has several options, one of which is to ask the other beneficiaries to put in writing that they choose you to be the executor instead. The other option is to file a challenge in court and have a probate trial on who the rightful person is to be appointed as the estate’s personal representative.

Intestate Wills and Personal Representatives

If the deceased died without a will, the laws related to intestate succession in Florida will apply. This is where the court will determine who has the right to be the personal representative. In this situation, the position is usually referred to as the estate’s administrator.

The administrator is usually the surviving spouse, but in the event he or she is unable to take on the responsibility, then it might be one of the surviving children. Basically, the judge will work down the list of “next of kin” until someone can be appointed.

Can a Personal Representative be Paid?

Section 733.617(1) of the Florida Statutes says that personal representatives are entitled to receive a commission from the estate assets without a court order as their compensation for services rendered. The commission is determined based on what’s known as the compensable value of the decedent’s estate. This is the inventory value of assets and any income earned by the estate during the administration. The statute mentions:

  • 3% of the first $1 million
  • 5% on the value that exceeds $1 million but is less than $5 million
  • 2% on the value that exceeds $5 million but not more than $10 million
  • 5% on the value above $10 million

Retaining a Florida Probate Attorney

If you have questions about probate and/or personal representatives for the estate, you need to speak with a skilled Florida probate attorney. At the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A., we have been helping clients with probate and estate planning matters for over 30 years. Contact us today at 561-571-8970.

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