The probate process is essential for determining the property rights of heirs and beneficiaries after a person’s death. The nominated personal representative must take the initiative to start probate, as courts will not act on their own behalf. If the court accepts you as a personal representative and grants you the power to administer to the estate, you have significant responsibilities under the law.
A Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer can help personal representatives to understand their powers and duties under state law. Our well-versed estate planning attorney, Marc Brown, P.A., can also help heirs and family members to evaluate the actions of administrators to determine if they align with the best interests of the estate.
How Parties Obtain the Power to Administer to an Estate
Every estate that moves through probate requires administration. Even so, probate courts will never act on their own to start the process and rely on the decedent’s family members to submit petitions for probate. In most situations, the party filing this petition will be the one nominated as the personal representative in the decedent’s will.
When you submit a petition to the probate court, you will usually also request certification as the permanent personal representative. In fact, Florida Statute § 733.301 says that nominated parties have first preference for appointment to this role. If a court confirms this request, it will issue letters testamentary to empower you. These letters are the legal authority that you need to open bank accounts, take temporary control of estate property, pay creditors, and distribute remaining assets to the named heirs.
A knowledgeable attorney in Fort Lauderdale can help you better understand the legal process behind receiving your power to administer the estate through the probate court as a personal representative.
Specific Powers and Duties of Personal Representatives in Fort Lauderdale
It is difficult to overstate the role that a personal representative plays in ensuring the proper administration of a Fort Lauderdale estate. Without proper administration, heirs may experience significant delays in receiving their assets, as well as legal complications that could decrease the overall value of the estate.
To this end, the law creates specific duties to which you, as a personal representative, must adhere. Under FL Statute § 733.602, representatives are fiduciaries, meaning that they have a general duty of care to act only in the best interest of the estate. They must take every reasonable step to pay the estate’s debts, distribute assets according to the terms of the will, and act to help estate property retain its value.
Failures to follow this duty could have serious consequences. FL Statute § 733.609 says that personal representatives who fail in their obligations to the estate are personally liable for any resulting financial damage.
Our Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer can help you formulate plans that meet their obligations as a personal representatives under the law. They could also help members of an estate to evaluate the actions of personal representatives and pursue lawsuits if they appear to have violated the fiduciary duty.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Estate Administration Attorney Now
Estate administrators, also known as personal representatives, have the sole legal authority to guide an estate through probate. This includes paying the estate’s debts, safeguarding assets, and enduring that property moves to the right heirs. State law grants these parties significant powers under the law but also requires them to act only in the best interests of the estate.
Our Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer, Marc Brown, P.A., can help you if you have recently learned that you have been nominated as a personal representative. They can guide you through submitting a petition for probate to the court, request formal appointment as an administrator, and recommend steps that keep you on the right side of the law. At the same time, they could assist family members and heirs to evaluate the actions of third-party personal representatives to evaluate whether they conform to the legal requirements. Reach out today to schedule an appointment.