One of the most difficult decisions many of us will make as we draw up a will is choosing an executor. In Florida this person is called a personal representative. This carries much responsibility, so the selection of your personal representative should be discussed and agreed upon ahead of time as that person will handle the probate process. Also, unless you name a probate attorney for them, this person will hire the attorney to assist with the process. Here are some tips for choosing the right personal representative so that your wishes are followed and the probate process happens smoothly.
Organization and Responsibility Are Key
No matter how large or small your estate, choosing someone who is organized and responsible should be at the top of your list. The probate process can take time and requires ongoing communication with the probate attorney. The person will also need to inventory everything of value in the estate, which means they will need to be organized.
Consider Their Current Situation
If you are considering talking to your adult child or relative who has limited time, you may want to reconsider. Handling an estate takes time. It may not be feasible to ask a relative in the middle of their own challenges to take on the stress of handling your estate. Although one of the most common options is to choose an adult child as your executor, sometimes another relative or close family friend may be better equipped to work through the probate process with the attorney. This person may need to work with the attorney during business hours, so if this would be a hardship you may want to consider someone else.
Know the Law
In Florida if your personal representative does not live in the state, they must be related. This means, if you do not have a relative you can trust to handle the probate process, you will need to choose a friend who lives within the state. Under Florida Statute 733.304, a relative is defined as:
- A legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent;
- Related by lineal consanguinity to the decedent;
- A spouse, or a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the decedent, or someone related by lineal consanguinity to any such person; or
- The spouse of a person who otherwise qualified under this section.
Talk About Your Choice
Whether you choose an adult child to handle the probate process, name all your adult children as co-executors, or go outside the family, make sure that you ask the person or people before you officially name them as executors. Also let others in your family know who you have chosen so it does not cause strife after you have passed.
If you do not have a will and need an attorney to assist with yours, Wagstaff Law Office can help. We also have vast experience as probate attorneys and can help you if you were named personal representative of an estate. Call us today at (727) 584-8182 to discuss your needs.