When you die, your estate will likely need to go through Florida’s probate process. This is the process in which your estate is administered, and your assets are passed on to your heirs. Your personal representative is responsible for administering your estate.
Who is responsible for your estate after you die?
A personal representative is the person or business entity that is authorized by the court after you pass away to complete the final tasks associated with the probate of your estate. This involves completing various legal duties.
A personal representative who fails to meet their responsibilities or otherwise acts negligently can face personal liability. Moreover, a breach of fiduciary duty can lengthen the probate process and possibly reduce the value of your estate. So, you will want to make sure the appropriate person or business entity is selected to fulfill this role.
How is a personal representative selected?
In Florida, the judge overseeing the probate process will select a personal representative.
If you left a valid will naming a personal representative, the judge will respect this decision if that person can legally serve in this role. To be a personal representative in Florida, you must:
- Be either a Florida resident or a close relative
- Be at least age 18 or older
- Have no felony convictions on your record
- Be mentally and physically capable of performing the duties of a personal representative
If you chose a business entity to serve as your personal representative, they must be incorporated in the state and qualified to serve as a fiduciary.
If you did not have a will at the time of your death, the court will choose a qualifying person or entity to serve as your personal representative.
The first choice would be a surviving spouse. If they cannot or will not serve in this role, the second choice would be the heir with majority interest in your estate. If any heirs object to this, a hearing will be held to select a personal representative.
A personal representative has many legal obligations associated with estate administration. If they do not meet these obligations, it can lengthen the probate process and possibly reduce the value of your estate. So, it is important that the right person is selected to fulfill this important role.