The first part of the Florida probate process involves the appointment of a representative to administer the estate of the decedent. Whether selected through a will document or by order of preference prescribed by Florida statute, an individual must first qualify as a personal representative in order to serve. Florida law outlines several requirements for personal representatives in Statute §733.303. Whether you are creating a will or beginning the probate process, understanding the requirements for personal representatives in Florida is vital to ensuring the decedent’s final wishes are properly implemented.
In order to be a personal representative, a person must:
- Have no prior felony convictions. A felony charge is not enough to disqualify a person from acting as a personal representative. Only a conviction will disqualify them.
- Be mentally and physically able to perform their duties. Incapacitation due to old age or other conditions/disabilities may disqualify someone from serving as a personal representative.
- Be 18 years or older. You may be inclined to designate some or all of your children as your designated personal representative(s), but they will not be able to serve if they are under 18 when the will is admitted to probate.
Furthermore, Statute §733.304 states that a personal representative must be a Florida resident unless they are:
- Related by lineal consanguinity to the decedent (i.e. child, parent, or grandparent);
- A spouse, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the decedent, or the child/parent/spouse of any of those relatives; or
- The legally-adopted child or parent of the decedent.
Even if a person meets these basic requirements, they may not be right for the job. The personal representative position is not simply an honorary title or a gift. It requires communication skills, organization, trustworthiness, sound and ethical judgment, and commitment to performing all necessary duties. It can be a time-consuming and stressful process, especially if beneficiaries contest the will, or the will itself is invalid. The best choice for a personal representative will not take this matter lightly, and they will prioritize the decedent’s final wishes over their own interests.
Florida probate is often a complex process, and the Courts will require you to have representation throughout the process. At Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, P.A., our attorneys have more than 70 years of combined experience helping clients achieve their legal goals. We take great pride in providing personalized, one-on-one support for everyone who walks through our door. As a full-service law firm, we are solution-oriented, developing strategies from scratch to meet your needs both today and tomorrow. To learn more about what we can do for you, schedule your complimentary consultation or give us a call at (239) 970-6844 today.