VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Understanding more about how the probate process works - V

Today's post will continue our ongoing efforts to demystify the probate process. As always, our aim in this series of posts is to help reduce any anxiety people might experience at having to be involved in the legal process and, perhaps more significantly, debunk any misconceptions.

Specifically, we'll spend some time discussing the personal representative's need for legal representation and the remuneration to which they are otherwise entitled.

The personal representative and legal representation

To recap, a personal representative, sometimes referred to as an executor, is appointed by either the will or the court to administer the estate of the decedent. As we discussed previously, this process of administering the estate requires the completion of a multitude of tasks.

Indeed, experts contend that the complex nature of these tasks frequently necessitates the hiring of a legal professional with extensive experience in probate administration, as they can appropriately advise the personal representative as to their rights and obligations, handle the aforementioned duties and represent them in proceedings before the probate court.

It should be noted, however, that even though the will might dictate that the personal representative must hire a certain legal professional, this provision is not binding. Furthermore, the legal professional ultimately retained by the administrator only represents the administrator, not the beneficiaries.

The personal representative and compensation

In recognition of the time and energy it takes to serve as a personal representative, the law dictates that they are entitled to reasonable compensation.

In general, the amount of this compensation is determined via one of the following methods:

  • It's set forth in the terms of the will.
  • It's set forth in a separate contract previously executed by the decedent and personal representative.
  • It's agreed upon between the personal representative and the beneficiaries/other affected parties.
  • It's determined by a judge.
  • It's calculated under Florida law and agreed upon by the beneficiaries.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have any questions about probate administration or other estate planning concerns. Stay tuned for more posts on this important topic. 

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