When someone dies in Florida, the decedent’s estate will go through probate. In this process, a probate court will determine the validity of the decedent’s will and gather all the assets left behind.
Then, after paying any outstanding debt, the remaining assets in the decedent’s estate are distributed to the beneficiaries. Throughout the process, the personal representative plays an essential role.
In this article, you will discover whether personal representatives can sell assets during probate in Florida.
Personal Representative in Florida – Understanding the Concept
A personal representative is a person or entity appointed to administer someone’s estate upon death. Also referred to as the “executor” or “will administrator,” the personal representative is usually appointed in the decedent’s last will.
If there is no last will in place upon the estate owner’s death, the court will appoint a person to serve as the personal estate (usually, a close relative such as a spouse or adult children).
When the decedent is single, or the decedent’s spouse does not want to act as the estate’s personal representative, the court will proceed to select someone with the nearest degree of relation to the deceased. Still, the decision depends exclusively on the court’s discretion.
To qualify to be a personal representative, a person must be 18 years of age or older, residing in Florida upon the decedent’s passing. No individual who has been convicted of a felony can be a personal representative.
Individuals under 18 years old at the time of the decedent’s passing or unable to perform the duties (mentally or physically) cannot serve as personal representatives.
The Responsibilities of a Personal Representative in Florida – Potential Liabilities
In case a personal representative mismanages a decedent’s estate during probate, the individual or entity appointed to the role may be liable to the beneficiaries for any injury that occurred to them.
Before accepting the challenge to serve as a personal representative, it is fundamental to seek guidance from an expert attorney to avoid possible litigation from heirs or other unforeseen issues.
Can a Florida Personal Representative Sell Assets of the Estate? – An Overview
Overall, what happens to the assets left by the decedent in Florida probate is part of the responsibility of the appointed personal representative. Florida Statutes §733, also known as the Florida Probate Code, provides the legislation governing probate proceedings.
Florida Statutes §733.612 provides that “a personal representative, acting reasonably for the benefit of the interested persons, may properly sell, mortgage, or lease any personal property of the estate or any interest in it for cash, credit, or for part cash or part credit, and with or without security for the unpaid balance.”
Still, personal representatives may have a more complex task when selling real estate than selling personal property. Ideally, the decedent’s will should contain a “power of sale clause.”
This clause permits the personal representative to sell real property without a specific order from the probate court.
Otherwise, if the decedent died intestate (without a will) or the decedent’s last will did not include a power of sale clause, the personal representative must seek court approval prior to selling real property.
Do You Want to Ensure a Smooth Experience When Serving as a Personal Representative? – We Have the Solution for You
If you were appointed as the personal representative of an estate, working with an expert probate attorney is essential. Waste no time – contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado, Esq. by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to schedule an initial consultation.