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How to Determine if You are an Estate’s Personal Representative

A personal representative is the person or entity appointed by a probate judge to oversee the administration of a deceased person’s probate estate. Unfortunately, disputes sometimes arise regarding this role. For example, prior to death, a person may ask more than one person to act as the personal representative of his or her probate estate. In this type of situation, confusion often arises regarding who is responsible for the administration of the decedent’s estate. In this article, we discuss how to determine if you are an estate’s personal representative. 

When There is a Last Will and Testament 

In many cases, a decedent’s last will and testament will name a personal representative. Therefore, the first step in determining whether you have been nominated as the personal representative of an estate is to check the decedent’s last will and testament. The last will and testament should be located at the probate court in the county where the decedent resided. However, if you locate the decedent’s will, and you have been nominated as personal representative of his or her estate, there are still additional steps that must occur before you can officially serve in this role. As explained below, for you to officially become an estate’s personal representative, the court must first issue Letters of Administration. 

Letters of Administration Requirement

In Florida, letters of administration are a type of court order that authorizes the personal representative of an estate to act. Therefore, unless the court has issued letters of administration to you, then you are not the personal representative—even if you have been nominated as such in a decedent’s will. If you begin to act as the personal representative of an estate without letters of administration, then you may face liability that you would otherwise be shielded from had you been formally appointed.

When There is No Last Will and Testament 

For cases in which a person dies with no last will and testament, Florida law has established an order of priority to determine who will serve as personal representative. If the decedent was married when he or she passed away, then the surviving spouse has priority to serve as a personal representative. If the decedent was not married, then a majority of his or her heirs must agree on who will serve in the role. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney 

If you need assistance with the probate process in Florida, our experienced probate attorney is here for you. At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, attorney Angela Siegel uses her extensive legal knowledge and experience to provide her clients with exceptional probate services. When you come to us for assistance, Ms. Siegel will handle all aspects of the probate process on your behalf. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with our talented probate lawyer.