What Powers Does a Personal Representative Have in a West Palm Beach Probate?
If you have been named as the personal representative for a West Palm Beach estate that will be probated in Florida, it’s important to learn what your responsibilities will be before you agree to take on the position. Some people are afraid to ask questions, because they think they should already know everything. This is not a position that most people have any experience with.
By asking questions and ensuring you are clear upfront on what your duties and responsibilities will be, it can help reduce the potential for mistakes or heirs and other family members raising questions on whether you are doing your job properly.
As a personal representative, you have a fiduciary duty to make sure you handle the probate administration competently, making sure to always act in the best interest of the beneficiaries. If you have questions on being a personal representative, contact a knowledgeable West Palm Beach estate planning attorney.
Personal Representative Powers in Florida
Depending on the estate, you may have a lot to do, or it may be relatively simple to administer. There is a standard order of what needs to be done, including securing assets, notifying potential creditors, providing an accounting, and distributing assets to rightful heirs. Some tasks require court approval, while for others are you are expected to complete them on your own.
Under Florida law, there are some actions that you can take without court approval. Some of these actions can include:
- Receive assets from various sources;
- Retain assets owned by the deceased, to prepare for liquidation or distribution;
- Insure the estate’s assets;
- Dispose of assets for credit or cash, excluding real property;
- Extend, modify, or renew any obligations owed to the estate;
- Employ someone to benefit the estate, like a West Palm Beach probate attorney;
- Pay assessments, taxes, and other expenses that are part of the estate’s obligations;
- And more.
Florida Statutes Section 733.612 lists a number of other general duties as well. These are duties and powers that your probate attorney will go over. As the personal representative, you are ultimately the one who is responsible for protecting and distributing assets as directed in the will. Florida law allows you the freedom to do your job efficiently and wrap up the probate administration as quickly as possible.
Personal Representative Duties in a Florida Probate
Most probate administrations follow the same general steps. These can include:
- Obtain a copy of the death certificate;
- Find all the important documents;
- Identify and place values on the deceased’s probated assets;
- Run a ‘Notice to Creditors’ in the area newspaper;
- Serve all relevant parties with a ‘Notice of Administration”;
- Conduct a search to identify creditors and defend the estate from improper claims;
- Pay all valid claims;
- Hire necessary professionals;
- File tax returns and pay owed amounts;
- Pay any administration-related expenses;
- Make all distributions, both statutory ones and those listed in the will; and
- Close the estate.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney
If you need assistance, contact a West Palm Beach probate attorney at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.