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Understanding who can serve as a personal representative

When a loved one passes, there are seemingly innumerable questions that must be answered once the funeral arrangements are complete and sufficient time for mourning has passed. Indeed, chief among these inquiries is who has been appointed to serve as the executor of the estate or, as Florida law calls it, the personal representative.

In the event the deceased executed a will designating a family member or friend as the personal representative, the circuit court judge presiding over the probate proceedings must make the threshold determination as to whether they are qualified to serve in this role.

In order to serve as a personal representative in Florida, the named individual must either be 1) a resident of the state, or 2) regardless of residence, a spouse, child, parent, sibling or other close relative of the deceased. Accordingly, anyone who is not closely related to the deceased and not a resident of the state can't be appointed to serve as personal representative.

Furthermore, if the named individual is 1) a convicted felon, 2) under 18-years-old, or 3) physically or mentally unfit to perform all that is required for the role, they cannot be appointed to serve as personal representative.   

In the event the presiding circuit court judge finds that the named person meets these legal requirements, they will issue what are known as "Letters of Administration." These documents, often referred to as simply "letters," provide proof of the person's authority to act as the personal representative of the estate.

In future posts on this topic, we'll explore who will be appointed to serve as personal representative if a person dies intestate, as well as some of the important duties required of this role.

If you have questions or concerns about probate or estate administration, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can guide you through the process.

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