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Ready to Be a Personal Representative?

Ready To Be A Personal Representative?

“Are you ready to be a personal representative? I represent trustees, and personal representatives, and I also handle disputes for beneficiaries,” said Florida attorney Reed Bloodworth, a 2021-22 U.S. News & World Report Trusts & Estates Litigation Best Lawyer®.

“What I’d like to explain is what you’ll be asked to do in the role of a personal representative so that you’ll know what’s expected and can try to avoid common legal problems and lawsuits.”

Reed is the Founder and CEO of Bloodworth Law, PLLC, in Orlando, and in Winter Haven. Reed handles trustee defense, trust disputes, probate disputes and probate litigation for clients across the state.

What Is A Personal Representative?

As is the case with a trustee, a personal representative is a fiduciary and shall observe the same standard of care applicable to a trustee.

“The role of a personal representative can be confusing,” Reed said. “The goal is to not let dates and details fall through the cracks. The position you may be asked to handle is that of a personal representative in probate estate.”

What Is A Probate Estate?

“A probate estate arises when someone dies in Florida and either left a will to address how they wanted their possessions to be divided among beneficiaries, or they died without a will, and the probate estate is disbursed pursuant to Florida’s intestacy statute,” Reed explained.

“A probate estate consists of anything the person owned at the time of their death, including real estate, vehicles, heirlooms, savings accounts, investments, and any other assets.”

Responsibilities Of A Personal Representative Include:

A personal representative must:

  • Serve Notice of Administration on the decedent’s surviving spouse, beneficiaries, a trustee, if that’s applicable, and the beneficiaries of the trust, again if that is applicable
  • Take possession of all of the estate’s assets
  • Furnish an inventory of the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries
  • Provide an annual accounting
  • Determine creditors and put them on notice of the probate estate
  • Pay the appropriate debts and expenses of the estate
  • Prepare the estate tax return and pay any owed estate taxes
  • And then, distribute the assets of the estate pursuant to the terms of the will, or if there is no will, pursuant to Florida Statutes; and then,
  • Close the estate

Many Legal & Financial Responsibilities

“So, as you’ve learned here, there are a lot of legal and financial responsibilities associated with the positions of acting as a trustee or personal representative,” Reed said.

“Be sure that you’re prepared for these roles. One of the ways that you can ensure you are executing your duties properly is to work with a trust or probate attorney with whom you’re comfortable.

Did You Fail to Perform Duties?

“Should you fail to perform these duties, beneficiaries can take legal action against you,” Reed said. “Sometimes, when several generations, stepfamilies, siblings, or friends are involved in a trust or a probate estate, you may feel a lot of pressure and it can be made more difficult by jealous or disappointed beneficiaries.

“If you’re having difficulties in fulfilling your duties as a trustee or personal representative, you may face potential lawsuits related to your role. You can’t make legal decisions without consulting with an experienced attorney. You may talk with the Bloodworth Law Trust Litigation or Probate Litigation teams and find out whether you’re ready to take on the responsibilities.”

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