Being appointed as a personal representative of an estate comes during difficult times. A tragedy occurred followed by a loved one’s death. The appointment represents significant responsibilities, specifically overseeing all aspects of the probate process.
What Is a Personal Representative?
A personal representative is either named in the will or petitions the court to take on the responsibility of estate administration. Appointment to this important role is accomplished when the judge grants the authority through a document called Letters of Administration. In Florida, usually a close family member or a legal resident of Florida over the age of 18, who possesses the ability to handle the process and who does not have a felony record will be appointed by the Probate Judge.
In rare cases, an authorized bank/savings and loan or trust company incorporated in Florida can take on the responsibility. In the end, the Probate court has final approval. Objections to the selection may arise for a variety of reasons.
What Happens If a Personal Representative Is Not Selected?
When someone dies without a will, the estate administration process can become complicated. The surviving spouse has the first right to the appointment as Personal Representative according to Florida law. If the deceased family member was unmarried or his/her surviving spouse has declined the responsibility, others can step forward. A judge will decide any disputes over who takes on this important role.
The responsibilities of the Personal Representative involve the collection of probate assets, determining any debts that need to be paid, and property to be distributed based on the terms of the Last Will and Testament. All actions taken by the Personal Representative must adhere to Florida laws.
Sadly, some Personal Representatives fall short in performing their duties, mismanaging an estate due to negligence, carelessness, or outright greed. Beneficiaries can pursue damages for harm done by the individual placed in this position of trust.
Individuals appointed as a Personal Representative usually lack experience in this complex area of estate administration law. Having a skilled and experienced probate attorney providing advice and insight is paramount, particularly if even the simplest legal issues arise.