It can be a confusing and depressing time when a loved one passes away. No matter how prepared you are, the death of a loved one can leave you feeling numb and bewildered. If you are responsible for making funeral arrangements for your loved one or administrating a probate or trust, your grief could be immobilizing, making even simple decisions seem overwhelming.
One convenient solution for surviving family members, especially those residing outside of the state of Florida, is to have an experienced probate attorney from the Florida Probate Firm serve as a professional personal representative, aka executor, for the estate. A professional personal representative can save the beneficiaries from the time commitment required of serving as fiduciary, as well as expedite the probate administration. We have the experience and resources necessary to assist in identifying and collecting any assets that may have been owned by the decedent by conducting searches for bank accounts, brokerage accounts and insurance policies. We also assist in every step of the process associated with selling real estate on behalf of the estate.
Mr. Walser will also serve as curator for estates involved in litigation, in which the judge decides the appointment of a disinterested professional is required to begin the administration and for the collection of the probate assets, before the outcome of the litigation can be settled.
A qualified probate attorney can help you through this difficult time. Call our office today to arrange an initial consultation where we can discuss how our experienced probate attorneys can assist you in finalizing your loved one’s estate.
When a Florida resident dies owning property solely in their name, that property will be required to go through the probate process. When it comes to probate, the personal representative is the one responsible for ensuring that all the steps of the probate process are properly completed.
If you have been chosen for this important role, it is important to understand the duties that are required of you. These include:
In addition, here are some other things you will be responsible for immediately after a loved one passes away:
With so much to do, it can be difficult to decide what you should do first. That’s where an experienced probate attorney steps in. An experienced Florida probate attorney can ensure that legal matters are taken care of and help you prioritize the steps that need to be taken immediately after the loss of a loved one.
There are certain criteria that must be met in order to serve as a personal representative in Florida. Specifically, you must be over the age of 18, mentally and physically fit to serve, and never have been convicted of a felony.
If you were named as personal representative in the decedent’s will, his or her wishes will be respected as long as you qualify. Otherwise, Florida has a priority hierarchy that designates who else can step in and represent your loved one’s estate.
FL Statute 733.301 Preference in appointment of personal representative.—
If the decedent died with a will in place (testate), the order of priority for appointment is as follows:
If the decedent died without a will (intestate), the order of priority for appointment is as follows:
Florida has special rules for non-resident personal representatives. Under Florida law, an individual must be a resident of Florida to act as a personal representative, unless they are a family member of the decedent. The exact statutory authority is as follows:
FL Statute 733.304 Nonresidents. —A person who is not domiciled in the state cannot qualify as personal representative unless the person is:
Essentially, this means that any individual who does not live in Florida will be prohibited from acting as a personal representative of a Florida probate estate unless he or she is a spouse, child, sibling, parent, or close relative of the decedent. But, as these individuals are usually the ones nominated or appointed to act as personal representatives in the first place, the law does little to restrict non-residents from acting as personal representatives of Florida probate estates. This restriction can present problems where the decedent nominates a friend, or some other professional such as an attorney or CPA located in another state, to serve.
Besides restricting which individuals can act as a personal representative for a Florida probate estate, Florida law also places restrictions on the kinds of business entities that can serve in this capacity. So, while a bank, savings and loan association, or trust company can be named as a personal representative, it will only qualify if has been authorized to serve as a fiduciary in the state of Florida.
A personal representative is a fiduciary who shall observe the standards of care applicable to trustees. A personal representative is under a duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s Will and the Florida probate code as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate. Some of the statutory responsibilities of trustees applicable to personal representatives include:
The takeaway rule to summarize the core objective of these rules is that the fiduciary must safe guard the assets, administer the estate according to the rules imposed by Will, Florida statute, or via orders from the judge, and that they must always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.