Who May Serve as a Personal Representative?

After a loved one passes, families face many decisions—one of which is selecting a personal representative for the estate. This person manages tasks like gathering the deceased’s assets, paying debts, and distributing what’s left to the right people. Florida law sets specific rules about who can take on this important role.

Florida Personal Representative Eligibility

In Florida, the primary criterion for serving as a personal representative is residency. The law states that to fulfill this role, an individual must be a resident of Florida at the time of the decedent’s death. However, there’s an exception for those who aren’t residents: family members.

If you’re a non-resident but have a specific relationship with the deceased—such as being their spouse, sibling, parent, or child—you’re still eligible. This rule acknowledges the importance of family connections in these sensitive matters, ensuring those closest to the decedent can manage their final affairs, even if they live out of state or abroad.

Exceptions and Disqualifications

Not everyone meets the criteria to serve as a personal representative. Florida law outlines several disqualifications to protect the integrity of the estate management process:

Convicted Felons: If an individual has been convicted of a felony, they’re automatically disqualified from serving.

Mental Incapacity: Those who have been legally declared as mentally incapacitated cannot serve unless their capacity has been officially restored.

Minors: Individuals under the age of 18 are not eligible to serve due to their legal status.

Specific Exclusions: If the decedent’s will explicitly states that someone should not serve as a personal representative, that wish must be honored, disqualifying the named individual.

These rules are designed to ensure that the person managing the estate is capable of handling the financial and legal responsibilities that come with the role.

Priority of Appointment and Specific Allowances for Non-residents

Florida law not only specifies who can serve but also prioritizes certain individuals over others, giving first consideration to the spouse and then to other family members based on their relationship to the decedent. This system helps streamline the appointment process and minimize disputes within the family.

For non-residents who are family members but live out of state or country, Florida makes specific allowances. This ensures that even if they are not Florida residents, they can still take part in managing their loved one’s estate, provided they are closely related to the deceased. It’s a compassionate aspect of the law that recognizes the global nature of many families today.

Get Clarity 

Choosing the right personal representative ensures that someone trustworthy and capable handles the estate according to Florida law and the wishes of the deceased. It’s a significant responsibility, requiring careful consideration and understanding of the legal requirements.

For anyone facing the task of selecting a personal representative in Florida, or if you’re eligible and considering taking on this role, understanding these rules is just the beginning. Zamora Hillman & Villavicencio Attorneys at Law can provide the guidance and support needed to make these decisions effectively. If you’re looking for advice or need help with estate planning or probate matters, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our team. We’re here to assist you in ensuring that your or your loved one’s estate is in good hands.

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Zamora, Hillman & Villavicencio

Our firm deals with legal matters involving your loved ones, and our familial operation is prepared to give you caring and effective counsel during what might be a difficult or emotional time.

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