There are many important matters addressed by a will, and this valuable legal document can provide peace of mind when planning for the future. One important consideration that you may not have thought about is nominating a personal representative to administer your estate.

Who Can Be a Personal Representative?

The judge overseeing probate proceedings will appoint a personal representative, generally the person or institution nominated to be such in the will, providing they are qualified to serve.

In the state of Florida, a personal representative could be an individual, a bank, or a trust company. If it’s an individual, they must be a resident of the state of Florida or a close relative (such as a mother, father, sibling, spouse, child, etc.). Individuals under the age of 18, those with a felony record, or anyone mentally or physically unable to carry out the duties are barred from serving as a personal representative.
If a bank or trust company is nominated as a personal representative, they will need to be authorized and qualified to carry out fiduciary duties in the state of Florida in order to be appointed by the judge.

What Does a Personal Representative Do?

After appointing a personal representative, the judge presiding over the probate case will provide the representative with “Letters of Administration.” These “letters,” as they’re commonly called, empower the personal representative to carry out the administration of the estate. Specific responsibilities include:

-Identifying, gathering, valuing, and safeguarding the assets covered under the estate.
-Publishing a “Notice to Creditors” in the local newspaper and serving a “Notice of Administration.”
-Diligently searching to find known creditors and informing them of the deadline to file claims against the estate.
-Paying any valid claims by creditors and objecting to improper claims.
-Handling final tax returns and tax payments that may be due.
-Paying any expenses associated with the administration of the estate.
-Distributing assets to the beneficiaries and paying any statutory amounts due to the decedent’s spouse or family.
-Closing the probate estate.

It’s clear that the personal representative has a weighty assignment in the probate process. When nominating a personal representative in your will, think carefully about the tasks involved and the nature and accountability of any individual or institution you’re contemplating for the role. Discuss the matter with your wills and estate lawyer to make a legally sound choice. At France Law, we help individuals to navigate important decisions about their will on a daily basis. Call us today to find the answers you need to move forward with estate planning.