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December 1, 2020

As a recently appointed personal representative of an estate in Florida, you may feel unsure exactly what duties you are required to perform. In short, you will need to navigate the probate process of the decedent’s estate and distribute assets to any beneficiaries or creditors, as well as handling related income tax matters on behalf of the estate. This process may become overwhelming without a good understanding of the legal guidelines and expectations that you must follow as a personal representative. Fortunately, many estate attorneys can assist you with these important probate matters correctly.

What Is A Personal Representative of an Estate?

In short, as a personal estate representative, you are responsible for administering the estate of someone who has died. Also known as an executor, you will act per the will to fulfill its terms. You are also legally responsible for ensuring that any assets subject to the probate process are protected and that you only act in the best interest of the estate you represent.

Whether you received this responsibility by being named in the decedent’s will or the probate court appointed you, a Letter of Administration is given. This gives you the authority to act on behalf of the estate. If you do not wish to undertake this role, a probate judge can appoint a new person, or a successor representative may be able to take over your duties.

What Does A Personal Representative Do?

Depending on the circumstances of the estate, whether contested or creditors are actively seeking their payments, you may feel a lot of pressure to get the process done in a hurry. This is never wise, and you should do your best to stay organized and methodical in your approach to managing the estate.

To complete your duties as a personal representative of an estate, you will need to complete the following tasks:

  • Get copies of the Death Certificate
  • Gather all estate planning and other related documents
  • Locate the decedent’s probate assets and value them properly
  • Contact a local paper and publish a “Notice to Creditors”
  • Ensure all relevant parties to the estate have been served a “Notice of Administration”
  • Identify and contact any possible creditors to the estate
  • Only pay out valid claims submitted to the estate
  • Hire professional support to ensure you process the estate assets appropriately
  • Pay all outstanding taxes and ensure needed tax returns are filed
  • Make sure that all associated administration costs of the estate get paid
  • Follow statutory distribution guidelines and ensure surviving family members receive their allotted inheritances
  • Distribute any remaining estate property according to specifications in the will
  • Have the court close the probated estate.

Once you have paid out any outstanding creditors and distributed assets according to the will or governing intestacy laws, you can finalize the closing of the estate. After probate court confirms you have completed the administration of the estate, your role as a personal representative will be discharged.

Can I Hire To Help Me Fulfill My Personal Representative Responsibilities?

If you are responsible for administering a Florida estate, it is essential to work with an experienced estate law attorney who can help you navigate this complicated process. Having counsel with demonstrated experience in probate law will help you manage the estate, creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries, as well as tax liabilities.

In addition to providing legal advice, a Florida probate lawyer can act as a central communication point between yourself and other beneficiaries involved with the estate process. It’s not uncommon for personal estate representatives to hire a tax accountant to help resolve any tax liabilities arising from assets inherited from the estate, as well as file the final income tax return. When determining the value of the estate, working with an appraiser will probably be necessary to accurately assess the fair market values of any property.

Will I Get Compensated for My Work as a Personal Representative in Florida?

Florida estate representatives can receive compensation for their services through Florida Statute §733.617. Though, if you are a beneficiary of the estate, you want to waive your right to this other compensation option since it would be subject to income tax. Since inheritances have a high limit before becoming taxable, it may be better to decline getting paid from the estate.

If you are not going to receive an inheritance, there is a declining scale of percentages based on the valuation of the estate, which you could receive under this statute.

  • 0% on the first $1M
  • 5% $1M to $5M
  • 0% on the next 5M to 10M
  • 5% on anything over $10M

If you provided additional services that go beyond administering the estate, you may also be compensated for these duties.

Partner with a Knowledgeable Florida Probate Attorney Today

At The Legacy Law Firm, we encourage you to take the necessary steps to protect the Florida estate you represent. Our team can  help you avoid common mistakes that could put your estate in jeopardy with creditors or probate situations. Call us today at (954) 999-9683 or contact us online to discuss your unique situation, learn more, and get started.