Grown children of parents who live in Florida but are not residents themselves may feel confused over the term “personal representative” as it relates to estate planning. According to the State Bar Association in Florida, “personal representative” is the term used to describe the person in charge of handling the estate of a deceased person. Other states use terms like “administrator” or “executor” to describe the same function.
A person’s will usually designates a personal representative. Alternatively, if a person dies without a will, the court must appoint someone to serve in the same capacity. Serving as the personal representative of a parent is a big responsibility. If a parent asks a grown child to serve as a personal representative, he or she should know what to expect before agreeing.
Generally, Florida law requires that a personal representative be a resident of the state of Florida. However, there is an exception for children and other close relatives who live out of state. People previously convicted of a felony, physically or mentally unable to perform the duties or under 18 years of age are not eligible to become personal representatives.
According to the American Bar Association, the duties of a personal representative include handling debts and expenses, managing estate assets and communicating with beneficiaries in the interest of avoiding any complaints or challenges. Mismanagement or errors in the administration of the estate can render the representative personally liable.
People who no longer wish to serve as a personal representative must formally petition the court for a discharge. Therefore, those unsure of their ability to serve should discuss their misgiving with their parents prior to the completion of the will.