I’m attorney Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law, PLLC, in Orlando. I handle trust and probate disputes throughout Florida. I represent trustees, personal representatives, and I also handle disputes for beneficiaries.
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.
Ready to Be a Personal Representative?
The role of a personal representative can be confusing. The goal is to not let dates and details fall through the cracks.
What is a Personal Representative?
The position you may be asked to handle is that of a personal representative in 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.
A probate estate consists of anything the person owned at the time of their death, including real estate, vehicles, heirlooms, savings accounts, investments, any other assets.
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
- You must take possession of all of the estate’s assets
- Furnish an inventory of the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries
- You must provide an accounting
- Determine creditors and put them on notice of the probate estate
- You must pay the appropriate debts and expenses of the estate
- You must 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
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.
Many Legal & Financial Responsibilities
So, as you’ve learned here today, there are a lot of legal and financial responsibilities associated with the positions of acting as a trustee or personal representative.
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.
Fail to Perform Duties?
Should you fail to perform these duties, beneficiaries can take legal action against you. 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.
Don’t figure these things out or answer these legal questions on your own. Seek the representation of an attorney.
If you are experiencing difficulties in fulfilling your duties as a trustee or personal representative, or are facing potential lawsuits related to your role as a trustee or personal representative, give me a call. Let’s talk about how Bloodworth Law can help.