A personal representative of a Florida estate is appointed by the Florida probate court and has the duty to protect and manage estate assets and conduct any necessary business that may be required as part of the personal representative’s normal duties. Such duties may include locating estate assets, heirs and beneficiaries, communicating with beneficiaries, paying creditor’s claims and defending claims against the estate such as will contest matters, making sure that estate taxes are filed on time, with the assistance of a Florida probate and estate attorney, and winding up and closing out the estate in a timely manner.
However, when a personal representative makes bad decisions or acts in a manner that jeopardizes the estate assets and the inheritances of the beneficiaries or other interested parties, the beneficiaries, heirs or other interested parties have the right to petition the Court for the removal of the personal representative.
Procedure to Remove Florida Personal Representative
The party making the claim must file a petition with the Court requesting the Court remove the personal representative and appoint a new one. If a successor name is not presented to the Court, the Court has the jurisdiction to appoint a personal representative of their own choice. The assistance of a Florida probate and estate attorney is required to prepare the proper documents, represent the party making the claim at Court hearings, and present and argue evidence in support of the petition.
However, keep in mind that just because you don’t like the decedent’s choice of personal representative that is not a valid reason to request that the person be removed. Florida law requires that you must have sufficient grounds to bring an action for removal of the personal representative before the Court. In order to prove your allegations, you have the right to request accountings and other information by making a written request to the personal representative to determine whether there have been any inappropriate actions committed by the personal representatives.
Grounds for Removal of a Florida Personal Representatives
The court considers the following as sufficient grounds for removal of a personal representative of an estate;
• Violations of a fiduciary duty such as committing a criminal act of embezzlement of estate assets
• Committing any criminal act
• Conflict of interest
• Receiving personal monetary gain from estate assets
• Violating a Court order
• Mismanaging estate assets
• Making careless accounting mistakes
• Concealing material information from interested parties to the estate
The personal representative will also hire a Florida probate and estate attorney to represent them in fighting the allegations. After hearing evidence and testimony of both parties, the Court will then make a determination if the personal representative should be removed and will appoint a new one or dismiss the case for lack of sufficient evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the personal representative.
Hiring a Florida Probate and Estate Attorney
If you are a party to a Florida estate and suspect a personal representative of breaching a fiduciary duty, you should consult with a Florida probate and estate attorney to determine whether you have sufficient evidence to bring an action for removal of a personal representative before the Court.
If you wish to speak to a Florida estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin today.