When a person dies, his or her assets and property are typically passed along to beneficiaries through the probate process. In Florida, a personal representative is the person responsible for managing a deceased individual’s probate estate, paying creditors, and distributing assets to beneficiaries of the estate. A question that often comes up regarding personal representatives is whether an estate’s representative can also be a beneficiary of the estate. In this article, we examine this issue.
What is a Personal Representative?
A personal representative in Florida is a person who is appointed by the probate court to oversee the distribution of a deceased person’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. An estate’s personal representative is either named in a testator’s last will and testament or appointed by the probate court pursuant to an order of priority established in statute if the decedent died without a will. The personal representative of an estate is required by law to act in the best interests of the estate, the estate’s beneficiaries, and the estate’s creditors.
Who Can Be a Personal Representative?
To be personal representative in the state of Florida, a person must be at least 18 years old, have no felony convictions, and be mentally competent. In addition, a prospective personal representative must either be a relative of the decedent or a Florida resident. If a person’s will does not name a personal representative, or the named representative is unwilling, unable, or unqualified to serve in the position, then the court will appoint an individual to fulfill this role.
Duties of a Personal Representative
A personal representative in Florida has several important duties related to estate administration. Examples of the duties of a personal representative in Florida include:
- Inventorying assets
- Valuing assets
- Paying expenses and debts
- Managing and distributing assets
- Filing tax returns
- Reporting information to the court
Personal Representative as a Beneficiary
A personal representative in Florida must act in the best interests of the estate and the estate’s beneficiaries. In other words, personal representatives in Florida are prohibited from benefiting themselves over the estate and its beneficiaries. A personal representative who breaches his or her fiduciary duty can face liability. And although a personal representative must act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries, a personal representative is permitted to be a beneficiary of the estate. Unfortunately, however, this arrangement can give rise to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, it is advisable for any personal representative who is also a beneficiary of an estate to seek legal guidance.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney
If you need assistance navigating the Florida probate process, the Law Office of Angela Siegel is here for you. When you come to us for assistance with the Florida probate process, founding attorney Angela Siegel will put her knowledge and experience to work for you. Please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with a talented probate attorney.