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What Role Does a Personal Representative Play in a Florida Probate?

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When someone passes away and leaves a will, the estate will need to go through probate to verify the validity of the will and how the estate will be divided. The personal representative is a person, trust company, or bank who is appointed by judge to be the one in charge of administering the deceased’s probate. Florida doesn’t typically use words like executor or administrator.

Who is Qualified to be a Personal Representative?

It is not mandatory that the personal representative be a natural person. It can be a trust company or bank, although there are certain restrictions.

In order for a person to qualify as a personal representative in Florida, they must be a resident of the state; or, regardless of their state of residency, they are a sibling, parent, child, spouse, or other close relative. Someone who is not a resident of Florida and has no close relationship with the deceased will not be allowed to serve as a personal representative.

Someone who is under 18 years old, has physical or mental issues that make them unable to perform the required duties, or was convicted of a felony, will be disqualified to act as a personal representative.

Banks or savings and loan companies who are qualified to exercise fiduciary powers in the state or trust companies who are incorporated under Florida law are also allowed to be personal representatives.

Personal Representative’s Duties

The personal representative is required to administer the estate according to state law. Some of the representative’s duties during probate can include:

  • Identify and keep deceased’s probated assets safeguarded;
  • File a “Notice to Creditors” placement in the appropriate local newspaper which will provide potential creditors with notice in order to file a claim pursuant to local law;
  • Serve necessary parties with a “Notice of Administration” which provides information about the probate and what the procedures are if someone has any objection to the probate of the deceased’s estate;
  • Object to any improper claims raised, as well as defend lawsuits filed on these claims;
  • Conduct a due diligence search in order to ascertain “known or reasonably ascertainable” creditors and letting the creditors know how much time they have to file a claim;
  • Pay any valid claims;
  • File necessary tax returns;
  • Pay taxes owed and any expenses relating to administration of the estate;
  • Employ any required experts to assist with probate — these can include appraisers or certified public accountants;
  • Pay required statutory amounts to the deceased’s surviving family or spouse;
  • Distribute assets to the appropriate beneficiaries; and
  • Complete a closing of the probate.

Attorneys for Personal Representatives

Personal representatives should always consider having their own skilled attorneys who can help administer the estate. It’s not uncommon for legal issues to arise, even when an estate appears to be very simple. Most of these will be simple issues that knowledgeable attorneys are adept at resolving.

Retaining a Florida Probate Attorney

Whether you need assistance with drafting a will or probating an estate after someone passes away, speaking with a skilled Boca Raton Probate attorney is highly recommended. Contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. at 561-571-8970 to schedule a consultation.

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