One of the key functions of a Will is the appointment of a Personal Representative of the Testator’s Estate. The Personal Representative is responsible for gathering the Decedent’s assets, paying valid debts of the Decedent and expenses of administering the Estate (including taxes), and finally, making distributions to beneficiaries.
The office of Personal Representative is an important one, and the choice for the Personal Representative and the successor should be given serious consideration. Clients of Thomas N. Silverman, P.A. often choose the Firm as the Personal Representative of their Estate.
Generally, a person who is a Florida resident, at least eighteen (18) years of age, of sound mind, and not previously convicted of a felony, may serve as a Personal Representative. A nonresident of Florida may only serve as Personal Representative if he or she is related to the Decedent in one of the following ways: legally adopted child or adoptive parent; lineal ascendant (grandparent) or descendant (child or grandchild); spouse, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew or niece; a lineal ascendant or descendant of any such person; or a spouse of any such person. A blood relative of a deceased spouse will not qualify to serve as Personal Representative of a Florida Estate.
Also, any trust company incorporated under the laws of the State of Florida and authorized to exercise fiduciary powers in the State may act as a Personal Representative.
An individual’s selection of another in their Will to serve as Personal Representative may not be honored by a Probate Judge if such named individual exhibits bad behavior, is conflicted, or acts in a manner which is not in the best interest of the decedent’s Estate.
In other words, the Probate Court has discretion to refuse to appoint a designated individual who is demonstrated to be unfit to serve due to lack of character, integrity or the like.