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Understanding who can serve as a personal representative - III

In a series of posts, we started discussing the basic qualifications that a person must satisfy in order to be appointed to serve as personal representative of an estate here in Florida. We also discussed the process whereby the circuit court will appoint someone to serve in this crucial role if a person dies intestate, meaning without a will.

We'll continue this discussion in today's post, taking a closer look at why exactly the position of personal representative is so vital, focusing on some of the important duties that the person holding this position must complete.

The responsibilities of the personal representative can essentially be divided into three categories: before probate, during probate and after probate.

Before probate  

Before the probate process begins, the personal representative will have to identify and gather all of the assets of the deceased. From there, they will also have to ensure these assets are properly safeguarded and assigned an accurate value.

Once this is completed, the personal representative will be required to provide notice to prospective creditors/claimants via newspaper publication and serve a "Notice of Administration" to those with objections to the administration of the probate estate.

As if this is not enough, the personal representative is also tasked with conducting a thorough search to track down "known or reasonably ascertainable" creditors, and provide them with notice of the deadline by which to file claims.

During probate

The duties of the personal representative continue after the commencement of probate proceedings, as they must file objections to any improper claims filed by creditors, and defend the estate against any lawsuits concerning these claims or other issues.

Furthermore, they must settle otherwise valid claims, and cover all tax issues, such as paying any taxes owed and filing the necessary tax returns.

We'll continue this discussion in our next post, exploring the duties of the personal representative post-probate, the compensation to which they are entitled, and why it's so crucial for them to consider retaining the services of a skilled legal professional.

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