Choosing A Personal Representative For Your Estate
Regardless of the size of your estate, it is important to have a properly drafted and executed will in place, but this is just the first step in the estate planning process. You will also need to name a personal administrator to file your will with the probate court and to ensure your wishes are carried out. In choosing a personal representative, it is important to be aware of the variety of duties that they may have to assume, and the types of qualities a person should possess to carry out this responsibility.
Duties of a Personal Administrator In Florida
Naming a personal representative is integral to ensuring your will is carried out properly. Chapter 733 of the Florida Estate and Trusts Statutes outline the duties and powers that often go along with this position. These include:
- Identifying, gathering, and providing for the security of all assets and property, including real estate, personal belongings, financial accounts, and the contents of safe deposit boxes;
- Conducting a diligent creditor search, which includes publishing a legal notice to creditors in the local newspaper;
- Determining which claims are valid and ensuring they are paid, and disputing any improper claims;
- Distributing property and assets to beneficiaries, and defending the will if it is contested;
- Filing tax returns for the estate and paying any taxes owed;
- Paying any administrative costs associated with the probate process.
The personal representative also has the authority to hire professionals, such as attorneys and accountants, to assist in administration and any expenses incurred may be deducted from the estate. Depending on the amount of assets and their location as well as ability to locate beneficiaries, estate administration can be completed in a matter of months or it could take years to resolve.
What To Look For In A Personal Administrator
You may elect to choose a personal administrator from among your family and friends, or you may opt to hire a professional, such as a bank or your estate planning attorney. The American Bar Association advises that while a spouse or one of your children may seem like the logical choice, acting as your personal representative can be a burden and often requires specialized knowledge and talents they may not possess. Qualities you should look for in choosing a personal representative include:
- Dependable, with a basic understanding of your values and what you want your will to accomplish;
- Fair minded and impartial;
- Able to follow through on tasks and follow complex instructions;
- Able to stand up to creditors or those who might contest the will;
- Basic knowledge of taxes and accounting principles.
Find Out How Our Florida Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help
Choosing a personal representative to carry out your will is a major responsibility, and you can trust our estate planning attorneys to help guide you in your selection. Contact Hancock & Associates, P.A. to request a consultation at our office in Orlando or Tampa for professional legal guidance and answers to all of your probate and estate planning questions.