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If you have been appointed as the personal representative (also known as executor) of a Florida resident’s estate, then you are required to administrate the estate in accordance with Florida law. Probate is a court process that is required to pass ownership of the decedent’s property to his or her beneficiaries or heirs. Even if the decedent had a valid will, the will still needs to be admitted to probate in order to effectuate the distribution. If the decedent died without a will (“intestate”) then probate is necessary to determine the distribution of the decedent’s property. Probate requires timely filings, accountings, and other documents to be prepared and filed in court. Failure to follow the Florida Probate Code can expose the personal representative to liability. Speaking with an experienced Florida probate attorney is imperative in order to ensure that the estate is administered correctly.
If decedent died with a valid will, then his or her personal representative will be named in the will. If the decedent died intestate, then the court will appoint a personal representative. Typically, the court will first appoint the surviving spouse, then family members. The personal representative has many responsibilities such as:
Distribution of the probate estate depends on whether the decedent died with or without a will. If the decedent died with a valid will (will validity is always decided by the court), then the estate will be distributed according to the will. If the decedent died without a will, however, then the distribution will be performed according to Chapter 732 of the Florida Probate Code. This Chapter details how heirs are determined and how the heirs will take under the probate estate. Most commonly, the estate will be transferred to the surviving spouse and to the surviving children. If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the Florida statute provides for distribution according to the remaining heirs.
Probate is complicated and due to court requirements, seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is always recommended. Even if you think the estate is not complicated, something always comes up during the probate process that you least expect. Mark Shalloway and the attorneys at Shalloway & Shalloway, P.A., are ready to help you, as the personal representative, ensure that the probate process goes smoothly and that you have fulfilled all of your duties. Contact us today to find out how our firm can help you with Florida probate estate administration.