By: Rebecca L. Nichols, Esq.

Published at

1 November 2023

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Personal Representative Eligibility and Duties in Florida Probate Administrations: A Detailed Guide

A personal representative, also known as an executor or administrator, is an individual appointed by the court to manage the affairs of a deceased person's estate during the probate process. They handle asset management, creditor claims, and asset distribution according to the decedent's will or state law.

A probate administration officially begins with appointing aqualified personal representative,often referred to as an executor. This individual assumes the crucial responsibility of navigating the probate process and administering the decedent's estate after he or she passes away.

This comprehensive guide is created to demystify the role, qualification, appointment process, and duties of a personal representative. This information is invaluable whether you are an estate beneficiary or contemplating taking on this high-stakes role.

Key Take-Aways
  1. The personal representative can be a person or a financial institution such as a bank or a trust company.
  2. To serve as a qualified personal representative one must be of legal age i.e., 18 or above 18, free from convictions and felonies, a permanent resident of Florida, a Direct descendent of the deceased, and must have the medical capacity to make decisions on behalf of the deceased.
  3. If a person dies testate then the personal representative appointed by the deceased performs all the duties, but if a person dies intestate then Florida intestacy laws overtake and appoint the representative as per the laws
  4. The duties of a personal representative involve notifying interested parties, managing assets, addressing tax and creditor claims, handling legal documentation, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

Florida Personal Representative Qualifications/Eligibility Criteria: 

What Our Attorney Says

Under Florida law, to serve as personal representative, individuals must meet certain criteria, subject, of course, to minor modifications under certain circumstances:

  1. Age: An individual must be at least 18 years old, evidencing the maturity and legal competency required for the role.
  2. Location and Relationship to the Decedent: An individual must either be a resident of Florida or share a familial relationship (by blood, marriage, or adoption) with the decedent. This assures a connection with the estate and effective fulfillment of duties. SeeFlorida Statute 733.304.
  3. Physical and Mental Capacity: An ideal personal representative should be physically and mentally capable of undertaking the steps necessary to administer the estate.
  4. Clean Legal and Criminal Record: Individuals with felony convictions cannot act as personal representatives, nor can individuals convicted of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult in any state or foreign jurisdiction. This ensures that a person with an impeccable track record manages the estate.
Suggested Read:  
For Detailed Understanding of Eligibility Criteria for a Personal Representative in Florida SeeFlorida Statue 733.303

Eligibility of Personal Representative  

Personal Representative Appointment Procedure

The court oversees the legal process of appointing a personal representative, the specifics of which depend on the existence of a will.

  1. When an Individual Dies with a Will (also known as Dying Testate):

    When the decedent has left a will, the court typically appoints the personal representative specified therein, subject to their fulfilling the eligibility criteria set forth earlier.

    If the primary nominee declines to serve or is not qualified to serve, the court respects the decedent's wishes and follows the will's succession order subject to the same qualification requirements. Absent a named backup personal representative, the court will choose a representative considering the majority interest of the beneficiaries or the judge's discretion.
  2. When an Individual Dies without a Will (also known as Dying Intestate):

    When the decedent dies intestate (or without a will), the designation process gets trickier and the court plays a central role in identifying a suitable representative according to Florida Statutes governing the preference in the appointment of the personal representative.   The following order of preference shall be observed according toFlorida Statute 733.301(1)(b):

  • Surviving Spouse: The surviving spouse is first in line to serve as a personal representative unless they decline to serve or are deceased.
  • Majority Interest Heirs: If there is no surviving spouse or the surviving spouse declines to serve, the majority in the interest of the heirs collectively designate a personal representative.
  • Heir Nearest in Degree:  If a consensus amongst a majority in the interest of the heirs cannot be reached, the heir nearest in degree shall be appointed as personal representative. Where more than one heir applies, the Judge would select the individual best qualified to serve.
Suggested Read:  
As a Personal Representative, let's together learn what are your Roles and Responsibilities

Duties of Florida Personal Representative: 

Serving as a personal representative comes with considerable responsibilities, several of which are:

  1. Notification: The representative initiates the probate process by notifying all interested parties.
  2. Asset Management: The representative identifies and takes control of the decedent's assets, managing and preserving them until their distribution to appropriate beneficiaries.
  3. Tax Responsibilities: The representative must also file all relevant tax returns and satisfy any outstanding tax liability.
  4. Creditor Claims: The representative must also address creditor claims against the estate by dealing with creditors and disbursing payments using estate funds. It should be noted that not all creditors get satisfied in a Florida probate, as certain procedural requirements must be met.
  5. Asset Liquidation: The representative must also determine whether assets must be sold to meet outstanding claims or satisfy distribution clauses in the decedent’s will or under Florida’s intestacy statute.
  6. Legal Documentation: The representative must submit all necessary paperwork to the court throughout the probate process.
  7. Asset Distribution: The representative must also distribute any remaining assets, after fulfilling all obligations, to the heirs under Florida statute or beneficiaries as specified in the decedent’s testament.

 Duties of Personal Representative  

Engaging experienced Probate andTrust Administration Attorneyscan simplify this intricate process and guide you through the appointment process.   Given the complexity of these duties, a personal representative typically seeks counsel from experienced estate lawyers or probate and trust attorneys. Not only are attorney fees for representing a personal representative payable from the estate assets, but the attorney represents the personal representative and ensures he or she complies with all legal requirements as set forth by Florida Statute, the Florida Probate Code, and various Judicial requirements. 

Useful Resources:

  1. What to Do with a Decedent’s Last Will and Testament?
  2. 12 Mistakes to avoid as a Personal Representative
  3. FAQs related to Affidavit to Avoid Probate for Small Estates  


A comprehensive understanding of a personal representative's role in Florida is critical for beneficiaries or anybody considering taking on this position. Knowledge of the required qualifications, appointment process, and various duties involved is indispensable.   An experienced probate, trust, and estate lawyer can provide guidance and peace of mind. Here at e-Estates and Trusts, we aim to enhance our client’s confidence in navigating the probate process while protecting everyone's interests.   Schedule your complimentary consultation with one of our experiencedestate and trust administration attorneystoday. Remember, every case is unique, and personalized counsel is imperative to the effective administration of a decedent’s estate.   Disclaimer: This article serves informational purposes only and shouldn’t be misconstrued as legal advice. Always consult an attorney for advice specific to your case. important legacy.

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