Florida Probate: Removal Of A Personal Representative
When a person dies in Florida, a personal representative must be appointed. Generally, a personal representative is an individual, or entity, trusted to perform all the duties related to a decedent’s estate, including, but not limited to;
- Preserving estate assets and accounting for assets
- Paying creditor claims
- Dividing assets among beneficiaries
Usually, an estate’s personal representative is named in a decedent’s will. However, if a will doesn’t name the person to be appointed as personal representative, or there is no will, the Court will appoint someone to fill this role. To qualify to serve as a personal representative in Florida, one must be a Florida resident, or, regardless of residence;
- a spouse,
- sibling, or
- another close relative of the decedent.
In a situation where there is no will, the Court follows Florida Statute 733.301(1)(b) when appointing a personal representative. According to the law, in intestate estates (estates where a decedent died without a will), the Court should appoint the decedent’s spouse to serve as personal representative. If the spouse is unavailable, the Court is allowed to appoint the individual selected by a majority in the interest of the heir or heirs nearest in the degree. In the latter case, if more than one heir applies, the Court is supposed to select the one best qualified as the personal representative.
Removal of a Personal Representative
According to Florida Statute 733.504, a personal representative can be removed, and the Letters of Administration revoked, if they were unqualified to act at the time of appointment. In Florida, a personal representative can be removed from office for various reasons. According to Florida Statute 733.504, a personal representative can be removed, and the Letters of Administration for, among others, the following reasons;
- Conviction of a felony.
- A determination that the personal representative is incapacitated.
- Physical or mental incapacity renders the personal representative incapable of doing their job.
- Wasting or maladministration of the estate.
- Failure to comply with an active court order.
- Removal of domicile from Florida. (However, this is only applicable if domicile was a requirement during the initial appointment.)
- Failure to account for the sale of property or produce and exhibit estate assets when required to do so.
One of the most common grounds for removal is “wasting and maladministration of the estate.” If the probate process is not monitored properly, a personal representative can probate an estate incorrectly, leading to lost time and money on the part of beneficiaries or heirs.
It is important to note that Florida courts have interpreted Florida Statute 733.504 to require actual harm to estate assets or endangerment. Therefore, before forwarding a claim of maladministration to the Court, it is crucial that you carefully analyze your claim. The assistance of experienced probate attorney can be invaluable in evaluating if this criterion is met, as ensuring that all necessary evidence is preserved.
In Florida, to begin the process of removing a personal representative from office, the individual seeking to have the personal representative removed needs to file a petition for removal in the Court with jurisdiction of the estate’s administration. Generally, in Florida, an heir or beneficiary or any interested party has the right to file a petition to remove a personal representative. According to Florida probate law, an interested person is anyone who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of a probate proceeding.
Allow Joyce A. Julian To Help You
If you wish to have a personal representative removed from office, contact the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A., today to speak to a skilled Fort Lauderdale probate & guardianship attorney.