Probate-Obligations of the Personal Representative
A person’s Last Will and Testament normally includes the name of an
individual or corporation who is “nominated” as the Personal Representative.
In other states, the person with this role is known as an administrator or
executor. The Personal Representative is charged with the duty of identifying
and collecting “probate assets” of the decedent (See section titled “Probate
Assets”). Once identified, the probate assets are listed a legal document
titled an Inventory, which is filed with the clerk of the court, and a copy is
served on (mailed or faxed) all the beneficiaries. In addition to describing the
probate asset (ie, boat, bank account), the approximate value of the probate
asset is listed as well. With some expensive items, such as art or jewelry, it
may be necessary to obtain an appraised value, by a certified appraiser.
The Personal Representative is also obligated to pay expenses of administration. These include money spent to open the probate, such as the filing fee charged by the court, (Currently $400.00), money to pay the newspaper to “publish” the Notice to Creditors, and the fee for the attorney and if needed the fees of other professionals who assist in the administration.
Additionally, the Personal Representative may be required to sell probate assets. For example, if a decedent leaves their estate to three children equally, items that cannot be divided three ways may have to be liquidated. An example of such as asset is a vehicle. There is a good deal of flexibility allowed in a probate proceedings however, if all beneficiaries agree.
If the estate owes taxes, the Personal Representative is responsible for getting those paid. Estate administration expenses, funeral bills, taxes and valid creditor claims must be paid before there is distribution of the probate assets to the beneficiaries.
Above all the Personal Representative is a fiduciary which means she/he has a legal obligation to carry out the decedent’s intent as expressed in their Last Will and Testament as efficiently and quickly as possible. The general duties of a Personal
Representative are set forth in Fl. Stat. 733.602.
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