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Florida Wills & Estates

Probate – The Personal Representative

If you are in need of opening an estate

you will need the services of an experienced estate attorney

The personal representative is the person appointed by the judge to be in charge of the administration of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative has a legal duty to administer the probate estate and must:

  • Identify, gather, value, and safeguard the decedent’s probate assets.
  • Publish a “Notice to Creditors” in a local newspaper in order to give notice to potential claimants to file claims in the manner required by law.
  • Serve a “Notice of Administration” to provide information about the probate estate administration and notice of the procedures required to be followed by those having any objection to the administration of the decedent’s probate estate.
  • Conduct a diligent search to locate “known or reasonably ascertainable” creditors, and notify these creditors of the time by which their claims must be filed.
  • Object to improper claims, and defend suits brought on such claims.
  • Pay valid claims.
  • File tax returns and pay any taxes properly due.
  • Employ professionals to assist in the administration of the probate estate; for example, attorneys, certified public accountants, appraisers and investment advisors.
  • Pay expenses of administering the probate estate.
  • Pay statutory amounts to the decedent’s surviving spouse or family.
  • Distribute probate assets to beneficiaries.
  • Close the probate estate.

The personal representative can be an individual, or a bank or trust company.  To qualify to serve as a personal representative, an individual must be either a Florida resident or, a spouse, sibling, parent, child, or other close relative of the decedent.

If the decedent had a valid will, the judge will appoint the person or institution named by the decedent in the will to serve as personal representative, if legally qualified to serve.  If the decedent did not have a valid will, the surviving spouse has the first right to be appointed by the judge to serve as personal representative. If the decedent was not married the person or institution selected by a majority in interest of the decedent’s heirs will have the second right to be appointed as personal representative. If the heirs cannot agree among themselves, the judge will appoint a personal representative after a hearing is held for that purpose.

A personal representative should always engage a qualified attorney to assist in the administration of the decedent’s probate estate. Even in a simple probate there will be a great number of issues that only attorney is qualified to assist with.  The attorney advises the personal representative on their rights and duties under the law, and represents the personal representative in probate estate proceedings.

If you find yourself in need of legal assistance, it is best to consult an attorney with substantial experience.  There are so many different circumstances that a proper answer to your particular problem can only be obtained by a trained and experienced lawyer.

If you require the immediate services of a highly experienced and aggressive attorney, please call for a FREE CONSULTATION

JUPITER LEGAL ADVOCATES

561 748-8000
email us at:  info@jla.legal