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Who Can be a Personal Representative for a Florida Estate?

Wills

When someone living in Florida passes away, their estate must go through the court to be accounted for and then distributed. The deceased individual’s will may be validated and their belongings distributed according to their wishes, or they may have passed away without a will and their property is distributed based on Florida’s intestacy laws. In either case, an individual must take on the obligation of creating an accounting of the estate, paying the decedent’s liabilities, and then appropriately distributing the remaining property. This individual is known as the personal representative in Florida, however, they may also be referred to as an executor.

Who May be a Personal Representative

In Florida, there are a few requirements an individual must fulfill before they can be an executor of an estate. A person must be at least 18 years old. They must be mentally competent and physically capable of the required tasks.

A personal representative is chosen based on certain preferences. The most important preference is that of the decedent. Whoever they nominated in their will is the court’s first choice. If the first nominated individual cannot or will not do it, then the court will look to see if the will named a successor. If it did not, or the successor is also not available, then the beneficiaries may put forth a candidate. When those interested in the proceeding cannot agree, the court may select a person involved that appears to be best qualified.

If the individual did not leave a will, the order of preference is different. First, the court will look to the surviving spouse. If this person is unable, then the court will appoint the person selected by a majority of the legal heirs. If there is no agreement, the court will designate the closest living or the most qualified heir. If none of the heirs are available or qualified, then the court can appoint any able person.

Who May Not be a Personal Representative

Certain individuals are prohibited from being a personal representative in Florida, including minors, convicted felons, and individuals deemed mentally incompetent. Also, any person the court determines to not be mentally or physically able to perform the duties of executor will not be granted the power to do so.

Special Rules for Non-Resident Executors

When the preferred personal representative for an estate does not live in Florida, there are special rules regarding when the Florida court will allow it or appoint someone else. A Florida court will only allow a non-resident who is a blood-related or a legally adopted relation to be a personal representative of a Florida estate. More specifically, they may be the executor of the estate if they are:

  • A legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent;
  • A lineal blood relation of the decedent;
  • A spouse, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, nephew or niece of the decedent, or a lineal blood relative of such person; or
  • A spouse of the person who is qualified under Florida law.

In some instances, if none of the above apply, a bond may need to be posted.

Is There a Problem With the Proposed Personal Representative of an Estate?

If you do not agree with the proposed executor of your loved one’s estate, you need to contact a Florida probate lawyer from the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. at 561-571-8970. An experienced attorney will thoroughly review your situation to determine if there are grounds to challenge the proposed personal representative and suggest someone else in their place.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0733/Sections/0733.303.html

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0733/Sections/0733.304.html

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