The Personal Representative is a fiduciary and must act impartially in the best interests of the Estate and the beneficiaries of the Estate. The Personal Representative’s general responsibilities are to take possession of the assets of the Estate, resolve all valid creditor claims against the Estate, and distribute the Estate according to the Decedent’s Last Will and Testament, and according to the Florida Probate Code. Before taking any action that will affect the assets or beneficiaries of the Estate, the prudent practice is to seek prior court authorization. Any action by the Personal Representative is protected by a Court Order authorizing such action.
Subsequent to taking possession of the assets of the Estate, the Personal Representative is required to file with the Court an Inventory listing the assets of the Estate and their approximate values. An Inventory may be subsequently amended upon the receipt or discovery of additional estate assets. After the Estate has been fully administered, unless waived by the interested persons, the Personal Representative must file with the Court and serve on all interested persons a Final Accounting reflecting all receipts and disbursements of the Estate throughout the pendency of the probate proceeding.
Unless restricted by the will or by law, a Personal Representative generally has the power to sell or encumber estate assets, including real estate. The prudent practice is to obtain a Court order authorizing such an action. A Personal Representative must not engage in self-dealing or transactions involving a conflict of interest. Any sale or encumbrance of an estate asset that is affected by a conflict of interest is voidable by interested persons unless the interested person’s consent is obtained, the action was expressly authorized by the will, or the transaction is approved by the court after notice to interested persons.
A Personal Representative is entitled to receive compensation from the Estate, and such compensation is generally based on a percentage of the value of the assets of the Estate. For example, for estates worth less than $1 million, a Personal Representative’s compensation is deemed to be reasonable if it is equal to 3% of the total value of the Estate.