Who can be your personal representative if you do not choose one?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2021 | Estate Planning

In Florida, a personal representative will close out your estate after your death. This includes tasks such as paying your bills and expenses, managing your property and distributing assets to your beneficiaries. 

According to The Florida Bar, you can choose an individual, a financial institution or a trust company, but the judge must appoint your chosen personal representative before it is official. However, if you do not name someone, the probate system includes a process for choosing one on your behalf. 

The court will not name any of these people

A person who is not yet 18 cannot be your personal representative, and neither can anyone with a felony conviction. If a mental or physical condition would keep someone from being able to fulfill all the duties, the court also will not choose that person. If someone does not live in Florida and is not one of your close relatives, then he or she is not eligible. 

The court prefers this person

A judge will always look first to a surviving spouse if you have one. This is natural, as your spouse probably has a good idea of what assets and debts you have and may already be managing some of your affairs for you. If your spouse does not currently have at least an overview of personal and family financial matters, you may want to share these. Then even if your spouse does not want to be the personal representative, he or she will be in a position to inform the one who the judge appoints. 

A better plan is to avoid leaving the matter to the probate system by naming someone in your will. Then you can keep that person informed of your wishes.