In Florida, a personal representative is required to administer the estate of the deceased. Usually, this person is named in the estate owner’s will, and is someone the estate owner trusts to transfer his or her assets to friends and loved ones. If the person does not have a will, or does not appoint a representative, the court will appoint one. The question then becomes what if the person is not fit to serve as the personal representative? The Florida Probate Code provides some guidelines on how to remove a personal representative.
First, it’s important to understand the rules of how a court appoints a personal representative. If the deceased died without a will, or died with a valid will but did not name a personal representative or grant anyone the power to appoint a personal representative, then the personal representative is appointed by an order of preference as set forth in Florida Statute § 733.301.
Usually for a person without a will, the court will appoint the spouse to serve as the personal representative. If the spouse is not available, the court will appoint the person selected by a majority in interest of the heirs, or the heirs nearest in degree. If more than one of these rules apply, the court may select the person best qualified to administer.
These are the usual rules for how a personal representative is selected in Florida, however, for various reasons, a beneficiary of the estate may wish to remove the person initially named as the personal representative of the estate.
In Florida, a personal representative may be removed for the following:
- The personal representative is incapacitated.
- A physical or mental incapacity rendering the personal representative incapable of the discharge of his or her duties.
- The personal representative has failed to comply with a court order.
- Failure to keep proper records of the sale of property or a failure to produce assets of the estate when required.
- Wasting or poor administration of the estate.
- A failure to give security or a bond for any person
- The personal representative has been convicted of a felony.
- Insolvency of a corporate representative.
- The possession or acquisition of conflicting or adverse interests against the estate that will or may interfere with the administration of the estate as a whole. (This cause of removal does not apply to the surviving spouse because of the exercise of the right to the elective share, family allowance, or other exceptions as provided in the Florida probate codes.
- Revocation of the decedent’s will that authorized the appointment of the personal representative or designated the appointment.
- The personal representative has been removed of his domicile in Florida, if domicile was a requirement of initial appointment.
- The personal representative would not now be entitled to appointment.
Florida Statute 733.504 states that if any of the foregoing causes are present, a person may seek removal of the personal representative.
To start the process of removing a personal representative, the person seeking removal must file a petition for removal in a court that has jurisdiction of the estate’s administration. If you are the beneficiary of an estate and wish to have a personal representative removed, contact the Law Office of David Goldman PLLC to represent your interests in ensuring the estate is properly administered.