Personal representatives and executors have serious legal responsibilities to pay creditors, gather assets, pay federal and any state taxes, distribute probate property to heirs and to wind up probate affairs. Under Florida law, a decedent who dies intestate or without a written will is subject to a judicial appointment of a personal representative. If you are the surviving spouse of a decedent who died intestate, you have a legal right to ask a probate court to appoint you as the personal representative of your spouse’s estate. If a decedent dies intestate and was unmarried at the time of death, the surviving heirs and legal beneficiaries have rights to appoint personal representatives by majority vote.
Personal representatives and their attorneys may receive reasonable compensation for their services. Furthermore, all other professionals involved in probate can receive fair compensation for their services. Personal representatives have legal rights to select their own attorneys to help them understand their legal responsibilities of administering wills. If you are a personal representative, and the decedent died testate or with a written will, he may have drafted a written provision in his will requiring you to select a specific attorney to help manage your fiduciary duties. However, you do not have a legal obligation to comply with the testamentary selection of counsel. Instead, you can disregard the mandate and select your own attorney. Your chosen attorney is your personal attorney who does not serve as the general estate attorney for other beneficiaries. You can contact our office, and we can serve as your personal attorney and provide you with valuable advice regarding your duties as a personal representative.