Choosing a Personal Representative in Florida Probate

Can I Be the Personal Representative? | Florida Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer

The personal representative is the person appointed to be the estate executor and handle the probate administration. But who gets to be the personal representative in the probate process? In Florida, there is an order of preference as to who can be the personal representative, and it depends on whether the decedent had a will or not. Understanding the order of preference is vital in ensuring a smooth probate administration.

Order of Preference:

  • With a Will: The person nominated in the decedent’s will has preference to be the personal representative. The court typically has limited authority to appoint someone else if the nominated person is willing and qualified. If the nominated person is unavailable, deceased, or unqualified, the alternate person nominated in the will has preference to be the personal representative.
  • No Nominated Person: If the will doesn’t name an alternate person, then the individual who petitions to be personal representative and is selected by a “majority in interest” of the beneficiaries has preference. A “majority in interest” is not the same as a typical “majority”. For example, if a beneficiary in the will receives a higher percentage of the estate, they basically get a bigger vote. If no one is elected by the majority, then any beneficiary named in the will may have preference.
  • No Will: In cases where there is no will, the order of preference is as follows:
    • Spouse: The surviving spouse takes precedence.
    • Majority in Interest: If there’s no spouse, then the personal representative is selected by a majority in interest of the beneficiaries.
    • Closest Relative: If neither of the above apply, then the relative closest in degree has preference.
    • Court Appointment: If none of the above steps forward, practically any competent person can petition the court to be appointed as the personal representative. However, it’s essential to give proper notice to those with higher preference. The court may appoint a court-appointed attorney if no one is willing to serve as the personal representative.

Choosing a personal representative is a critical decision in the probate process. Having a will can significantly impact the ease of this selection, ensuring your nominated representative is given priority. However, in the absence of a will, understanding the order of preference and giving proper notice is crucial for a successful and smooth appointment process. If you have questions or need assistance in navigating the intricacies of appointing a personal representative, our team is here to help. Contact us for personalized guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Fort Lauderdale Probate Attorneys

At SJF Law Group, our probate lawyers expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of estates and trusts. We work hard to ensure that your wishes will be followed, and your loved ones taken care of when you are gone. When you work with the probate and estate planning attorneys at SJF Law Group, you get more than just an estate plan: you get peace of mind.

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