Duties of a Personal Representative
In Florida probate proceedings, a personal representative is designated to administer the estate of the decedent. The duties of a personal representative include settling the decedent’s estate and carrying out the other tasks required of their position. If you have been named as the personal representative of a Florida probate estate, you may have questions regarding the duties and powers of the position. The West Palm Beach probate lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen J. Press can provide trustworthy advice regarding estate administration in Florida. We can work with personal representatives to ensure that estates are probated efficiently and lawfully.Overview of the Duties of a Personal Representative in Florida
When a person passes away, they may have debts and other matters that must be settled before their estate may be distributed to heirs or beneficiaries. Generally, most assets and property owned individually by the decedent, outside of a valid trust, may be subject to probate administration. Probate is a court-supervised process in which the property and assets of the decedent’s estate are inventoried, assessed, and distributed to creditors and/or beneficiaries of the estate. In Florida, the personal representative carries out the steps necessary to probate the decedent’s estate. A personal representative has many legal duties with regard to administering the probate estate, and these are laid out in the Florida Probate Code. A seasoned probate lawyer can guide you through the process of complying with these duties.Identifying Probate Assets and Creditors
A decedent’s estate is comprised of assets that are subject to probate, and may include real property, bank accounts, investments, and personal property. The personal representative must identify the estate assets and make an inventory to determine the value of the estate. The personal representative must also conduct a diligent search to identify creditors of the estate and publish a “Notice to Creditors” in the local newspaper.Handling Claims Against the Estate
The personal representative is obligated to pay valid claims against the estate from creditors. If a lawsuit is brought against the estate by a creditor or another party, the personal representative has a duty to defend against improper claims. In addition, a “Notice of Administration” must be served to all relatives, friends, and other interested parties, and provide information about the probate proceedings and the procedures needed to file an objection to the administration of the estate.Tax and Clerical Matters
It is the personal representative’s responsibility to ensure that the tax returns are filed and that any taxes due are paid by the estate. If the duties of a personal representative are not properly carried out, the representative may be liable to the estate’s beneficiaries or others harmed as a result. To assist with tax return preparation and other necessary administrative matters, the personal representative may hire professionals such as certified accountants, appraisers, investment advisers, and attorneys. Any expenses incurred from administering the probate estate may be paid from the estate funds.Distributing and Closing the Probate Estate
Once the probate judge determines that all valid claims against the estate have been paid, the estate may be distributed to the beneficiaries. The personal representative must make any statutory distributions to the surviving spouse and family members if necessary. The remaining assets may then be distributed according to the terms of the decedent’s will. After the decedent’s estate has been settled, the personal representative may finalize the legal closing of the estate with the probate court and be discharged.West Palm Beach Lawyers for Probate Matters
If you are serving as the personal representative of a Florida probate estate, seeking professional legal guidance may help you to avoid costly mistakes. West Palm Beach attorneys Stephen J. Press and Jessica Mishali can help personal representatives and other individuals through probate administration in Florida. We can serve clients in areas throughout Martin, Broward, Palm Beach Counties, including in Plantation, Stuart, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Davie, Coral Springs, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, Palm City, Hollywood, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Hallandale Beach, Pompano Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, and Jensen Beach. Contact the Law Offices of Stephen J. Press by phone at (561) 833-2772 or online to request a free consultation.