Removal of Personal Representative
When a probate estate is created in Florida, a personal representative is appointed to settle and distribute the estate. The personal representative has a fiduciary duty to use the authority conferred upon them in the best interests of the estate. If that individual is not qualified to serve as the personal representative, they may be removed by the court. A West Palm Beach probate litigation lawyer at The Law Office of Jessica Mishali, P.A., can provide information and guidance regarding the potential grounds for removing a personal representative. Attorney Mishali has the experience to represent petitioners opposing the appointment of a personal representative, or personal representatives defending against a petition for removal.Removal of a Personal Representative in Florida
In Florida, the personal representative performs the duties necessary to probate the decedent’s estate. The court follows the order of preference provided by statute to appoint the personal representative of an estate. In cases where the decedent left a will, the first choice is the person named in the will or their successor, followed by the person selected by the beneficiaries of the will, and lastly, the best qualified devisee under the will. Where the decedent died intestate, the surviving spouse has the statutory priority to serve as personal representative, followed by a person chosen by the heirs, then the decedent’s closest living relative.
Any interested party to the estate may challenge the appointment of a personal representative. Generally, any person who resides in Florida and is over 18 years old may be qualified to be the personal representative of an estate. However, an individual is not qualified to act as a personal representative if they have been convicted of a felony or if they are mentally or physically unable to perform the duties. Florida law also provides twelve causes for removal of a personal representative. If the evidence of record shows that the person with statutory preference lacks the qualities and characteristics to serve as personal representative, the court has discretion to appoint someone else.
In some situations, a personal representative who was qualified to act at the time of appointment may be removed thereafter if they are no longer qualified or entitled to that appointment. At any time during probate administration, a person serving as a personal representative may be removed for cause. Removal proceedings may be commenced by the court, or upon a petition filed by an interested party. In most cases, the court will decide the issue after an evidentiary hearing. A probate attorney can assist by presenting arguments to support your interests.
There are many statutory grounds for removal that may arise as the estate is probated. For example, a personal representative may be removed for failing to comply with a court order, failing to account for the sale of property or to produce the assets of the estate when required, or by failing to give bond or security. Waste or mismanagement of the estate assets is another common reason to remove the personal representative. A conflict or adverse interest between the personal representative and the estate may be grounds for removal, depending on the circumstances. Alternatively, the court may choose to appoint an administrator ad litem to represent the estate with respect to a particular issue of conflict.West Palm Beach Lawyer for Probate Litigation
If you are facing a dispute regarding the administration of a probate estate, legal counsel can review the record to determine whether there are facts that may support the removal of the personal representative in your case. West Palm Beach attorney Jessica Mishali can represent people located throughout Broward, Martin, and Palm Beach Counties, including Indiantown, Palm City, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Coral Springs, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Pompano Beach, Plantation, Stuart, Hobe Sound, Jensen Beach, and Boca Raton. Call us at (561) 833-2772 or contact us online today and schedule an initial consultation.