Personal representatives assume a significant time-consuming responsibility when they manage an estate. Whether they are appointed by the court or named in a will, personal representatives settle issues ranging from creditor notification and filing tax returns to distributing money to beneficiaries and paying ongoing expenses. Even under the most unforeseen circumstances, Florida law grants a preference to spouses in appointment to the position.
Law applies even for death during divorce
In one case, a couple entered a partial marriage settlement agreement while the court reviewed a petition to dissolve the marriage. The husband died without a will prior to a final legal determination regarding the marriage.
A conflict arose between the husband’s brother and wife concerning who should act as personal representative for the estate. The brother asserted the language within the agreement and its legal effect at the time of the husband’s death should compel the court to appoint him as personal representative.
The court provided two straightforward reasons to appoint the wife as personal representative. First, the brother failed to satisfy the specific requirements that satisfy an “explicit” waiver of the preference provided under Florida law. Second, the husband’s death ended the marriage, so any terms in the agreement the brother offered as evidence of a waiver have no effect.
Personal representatives carry out the interests of the estate, even when unexpected events can complicate an ordinarily routine part of estate management. They ensure all parties with an interest receive what the law permits. An attorney with a solid foundation of knowledge in estate planning can answer your questions.