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Can someone living outside of Florida act as a personal representative?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2023 | Estate Planning |

If you have a loved one who passed away in the sunshine state, you may wonder who will oversee administering their estate. The person who manages this important task is called a personal representative, and they have many duties and responsibilities under the law. But, can someone living outside of Florida act as a personal representative for an estate?

What is a personal representative?

A personal representative is appointed by the court to manage the affairs of a deceased person’s estate. They are responsible for gathering the assets, paying the debts, filing the taxes and distributing the inheritance to the beneficiaries according to the will or the law.

Who can be a personal representative?

Our state has requirements for who can be a personal representative. First, they must be at least 18 years old and mentally and physically capable of performing their duties. Second, they must not have been convicted of a felony. Third, they must either be a resident of Florida or related to the decedent in certain ways.

If the decedent had a will, they may have named their personal representative or given them the power to nominate someone else. In that case, the court will usually honor their choice, unless there is a valid reason to disqualify them. If the decedent did not have a will, or if their will did not name a personal representative, the court will follow an order of preference based on the relationship to the decedent. For example, the surviving spouse has the first priority, followed by the person selected by most of the heirs, followed by the nearest heir and so on.

What if the personal representative lives outside of Florida?

If the personal representative lives outside of Florida, they may still be able to serve if they meet one of these exceptions. They can be a legally adopted child or parent of the decedent. They are related by blood to the decedent (such as a child, parent or grandparent); or they are a spouse or a sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the decedent or someone related by blood to any of these persons.

However, even if they qualify under these exceptions, they may face some practical challenges in serving as a personal representative from another state. For example, they may have to travel to Florida frequently to attend court hearings, meet with attorneys and accountants, inspect property and sign documents. They may also have to post a bond to secure their performance, which can be costly and difficult to obtain.