Have you been appointed as a personal representative for someone’s estate in Florida, or are you considering who you should select to be the personal representative for your estate? Whether you have been asked to be a personal representative, or are selecting a representative, the first order of business is to get an understanding of what are the personal representative duties in Florida.
Accordingly, in this article, we will talk about the set of responsibilities that Florida law expects of personal representatives who are tasked with handling an estate after the estate holder passes away. With a better understanding of the personal representative duties in Florida, you will be better able to decide whether you are able to act as a personal representative or who you should choose as the personal representative for your estate.
If, after reading this article, you have additional questions about your own circumstances, then we welcome you to give our probate attorneys a call at Doane & Doane, PA. Our firm focuses on probate, estate, and tax matters. We care deeply about our clients and want to make sure that they have the best, most up-to-date, information available.
At Doane & Doane, PA, we strive to give our clients the personalized legal counsel they need to appropriately take care of their probate, tax, and other estate matters. Contact the Palm Beach Gardens attorneys at Doane & Doane, PA. You can contact us today at 561-656-0200 or fill out our online contact form.
Personal Representative Defined
In common parlance, the term that is most often used is “executor” of an estate. In Florida, however, the term of “personal representative” is used to describe the executor, who is the person (or entity like a bank) appointed to manage the handling of a person’s estate after they pass away.
Technically speaking, a personal representative is an “officer of the court” for purposes of the probate of a deceased person’s estate. That means that the personal representative has a duty, to be honest, and forthright with the probate court. Also, the personal representative has fiduciary duties (i.e., serves in a place of trust) towards the estate itself. In sum, there is a fair amount of responsibility that comes with serving as a personal representative.
Overarching Personal Representative Duties in Florida
As you would expect, Florida law states that a personal representative of an estate has a number of duties. We will cover the main ones here.
1. Obtaining a bond
One of the first things that a personal representative must take care of is securing a bond. A personal representative bond is like a form of insurance. It guarantees that the representative will manage the estate’s assets on behalf of the heirs of the estate, and promises that the representative will settle debts, cancel accounts of the deceased, notify Social Security and other agencies, pay taxes and pay funeral costs of the estate. Personal representative bonds are also called probate bonds.
2. Observe a standard of care
The “standard of care” means, essentially, that a personal representative is required to work in the best interests of the estate and its heirs – not for his or her personal best interests. That means, of course, settling and distributing the assets in accordance with the terms of the deceased person’s will and to work as efficiently as possible.
3. Duty to resign if not qualified
If it becomes clear at any time that the personal representative is not qualified to serve in that capacity, he or she has a duty to promptly resign the position.
In addition to the basic notion that personal representatives must act in the best interests of the estate, here are the specific duties personal representatives must carry out:
1. Finding, identifying, and protecting all estate assets.
2. Serving a “notice of administration” on all parties who may be entitled to a portion of the estate.
3. Providing inventories and accountings to beneficiaries when requested.
4. Publishing notice to creditors in the newspaper to inform those who have a right to be paid for debts from the estate.
5. Paying any taxes due, and preparing the final tax return for the estate.
6. Obtaining the help of an expert – such as accountants, appraisers, or lawyers – in order to fulfill personal representative duties.
7. Paying the debts of an estate once the debt is confirmed to be valid.
8. Paying the expenses for administration of the estate.
9. Distributing the estate assets once the creditors have been handled.
10. Closing the estate after the debts have been paid and the assets distributed.
As you can see there are a lot of responsibilities on the shoulders of a personal representative. Accordingly, if you are a personal representative in Florida, it would be worthwhile for you to obtain the help of an experienced probate attorney.
Learn More About Personal Representative Duties in Florida and Get Help From a Seasoned Probate Attorney at Doane & Doane
Founded in 2003 by husband and wife legal team, Randell C. Doane and Rebecca G. Doane, Doane & Doane provides legal and financial services to families, individuals, and businesses throughout Southeast Florida.
Estate planning is about much more than just giving away property. It is an act of love and kindness, with the ultimate goal of providing for the future financial security of your loved ones. At Doane & Doane, our Wills and Trusts Attorneys West Palm Beach help people plan for retirement, make provisions for loved ones, figure out future child support, and minimize tax liability. Experienced wills and trusts attorneys know which tools to use to get the best results for their clients. Our lawyers can help you determine which tools are best suited to your specific circumstances.
When it comes to probate matters, such as the formal administration of an estate, Florida fiduciaries seek the assistance of the attorneys at Doane & Doane, P.A. to administer and manage their trusts and estates. Notably, the founding partners of Doane & Doane are board certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys. With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trusts and estates.
Call us at Doane & Doane, P.A. to help you if you are faced with a probate matter, or if you would like estate planning services in Florida. You can reach us at 561-656-0200. Call us today.