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The Duties Of A Personal Representative In The Probate Process

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When a person passes away in Florida, his will goes through probate. This means that the will goes through a court process in order to be validated and accepted as the true last wishes of the deceased person. When a person writes a will, they name a personal representative or executor in the will to be responsible for several duties throughout the probate process.

In some cases, if the person dies without a will, or a named representative cannot or will not serve as a representative, the court will appoint the representative. Some people choose to name a backup representative in case the first choice representative refuses to accept the responsibility of serving as a personal representative or executor.

The personal representative has various probate duties to the estate. Initially, the probate representative has a duty to locate all the assets the deceased owned, and determine the value of the assets at the owner’s death. The representative also has to contact the beneficiaries and heirs of the estate regarding the terms of the will and other non-probate assets. Non-probate assets include the proceeds of a life insurance policy or a retirement account.

The personal representative also has a duty to make sure that the debts of the deceased’s estate are taken care of before the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries under the will. This means that the personal representative has to locate creditors and determine the validity of the debts before paying the debts or settling them. The personal representative is also responsible for paying any other expenses that are incurred by your estate before the end of the probate process.

The personal representative also has a duty to file the deceased’s final tax return and pay any taxes due at the time of death or from the estate. These final taxes can include the deceased personal income tax, an estate tax, and even any applicable gift taxes.

The person chosen to act as a personal representative or executor does not become personally liable for the estate’s debts. For example, if the estate’s debts exceed the estate’s assets, the estate’s assets will be applied to the debt, and any remaining debt will go unpaid, and not be required to be paid by the representative. There may be an exception to this when the personal representative is the spouse of the deceased and the debt was a joint debt of the couple. In this case, the debt is not passed on the spouse in the spouse’s capacity as a personal representative. The debt already belongs to the spouse.

Let Us Help You

Selecting a personal representative is a serious matter. There is a lot to consider, and the personal representative has to be a person who is ready to serve as a representative and is responsible enough to do so. For more information about the probate process and how to select a good personal representative, contact the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group located in The Villages, Florida to speak to an experienced probate and estate planning attorney to help guide you through the process.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0733/Sections/0733.301.html

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0733/0733PARTVIContentsIndex.html

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