The rules of estate planning are actually dictated by state law. And the laws of estate planning vary widely from state to state. Here in Florida, there are restrictions on who can serve as personal representative of an estate. For example:
A personal representative has to be a resident of Florida; or, if the personal representative is not a Florida resident, he or she must be:
- A spouse
- A child
- A sibling
- A parent
or another close relative of the decedent. The law also says that a Florida trust company or an authorized bank or savings and loan can serve as the personal representative of an estate.
So, if you’re an individual, unless you’re a Florida resident or you’re a close relative of the decedent, you’re simply not legally qualified to serve as personal representative of an estate.
This highlights one of the problems with making a Will without the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney. What if decided to name your best friend, who lives in South Georgia, to serve as your personal representative? Without knowledge of the laws governing estate planning, this is an easy mistake to make, but one that can cost your loved ones time and money during the probate process – and can ultimately result in someone you don’t want serving as your personal representative.