Should You Change Your Personal Representative?
One of the most important estate planning decisions is choosing the right personal representative. In Florida, this is the person who will shepherd your estate through the probate process. He or she will collect estate assets, keep them safe, and pay any bills you owed at death. Then the personal representative will distribute your remaining estate assets to the people named in the will.
However, estate plans are never set in stone. You should periodically review your plan to see if you want to change the beneficiary designations. You should also decide whether it is time to name a new personal representative.
Under Florida law, a divorce will void the designation of your spouse as the personal representative. However, you will need to name someone else. If you die without a representative, then family members can petition the probate court to name them. This leaves it up to the judge.
Instead, review your designation and name someone new. Also avoid waiting until your divorce is finalized. Once paperwork has been filed in divorce court, make an appointment with an estate planning lawyer.
If you moved to Florida, then you should probably name a new personal representative, unless they moved to the Sunshine State with you. For example, you might have named your sister as your personal representative when you lived in Michigan. If she is still in Michigan, then name a Florida resident to serve.
Fla. Stat. § 733.304 contains certain restrictions on the ability of non-Florida residents to serve. Only certain relatives who live out of state can be your representative, so if you named a non-relative then you should choose someone new.
Further, having someone so far away definitely impedes their ability to carry out their duties. Even if you named a relative, it might be too much work to manage an estate while living hundreds of miles away. A person will need to travel to obtain some assets and possibly meet with creditors. Though an attorney can help, the job might be overwhelming. Talk with your estate planning lawyer in The Villages if you need help choosing someone.
Your estate might have changed significantly since you drafted your will. For example, you could have become much wealthier, and your estate is now larger, with more complex assets. Your personal representative should be financially savvy to protect the value of the estate assets.
Assess your financial condition. Although a representative can hire outside help, such as financial planners or accountants, some try to do everything on their own. You might need to name a new representative to protect your beneficiaries.
Death of the Personal Representative
Your representative might have predeceased you. This is always a possibility, which is why many wills name a backup, called a “successor” personal representative. If your successor has died, or if you did not name one, then you should revise your will.
We Can Help
Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group has represented the Villages for years, and we are available to discuss revising your will. Contact our estate planning lawyers today to schedule a free consultation, 800-743-9732.