Choice for a Personal Representative

Mr. Jones is a Florida resident who is contemplating having a will drafted by his local attorney. Mr. Jones has a large family, many close friends, and has amassed a sizable fortune from various investments. He is having trouble picking a Personal Representative (Executor) to administer his estate after his death.

Mr. Jones is divorced, and has custody over his two children who reside with him. One of his sons is seventeen, has a genius IQ level and is in perfect health, and his other son is 25 but has Down’s syndrome. Mr. Jones’ first choice would be to have one of his natural children, as mentioned above be his Personal Representative. Would the selection of either one or both of his children be valid? NO, according to Florida law, neither selection would likely be upheld in Court. Florida law prohibits a minor or a person with diminished mental capacity from becoming a Personal Representative.

Mr. Jones’ second choice for a Personal Representative is his best friend Michael who is a legal resident of Georgia. Michael is not related to Mr. Jones. Is Michael a valid selection for Mr. Jones’ Personal Representative? According to Florida law, Michael would not qualify as a Personal Representative because a ‘Nonresident’ of Florida must be related to the “testator” to be a valid Personal Representative.

Mr. Jones’ third choice for a Personal Representative is the financial institution which helped him amass his fortune, the ABC Trust Company. Can a trust company become a valid Personal Representative in Florida? Yes, Florida law recognized that Florida and federal banks, savings and loans and other trust companies which are authorized to exercise fiduciary powers are permitted to serve as Personal Representatives.

Finally, there are numerous exceptions and loopholes as to who may serve as a valid Personal Representative in Florida, and it would be advisable to consult an attorney for further direction in your own estate planning and in choosing a Personal Representative.

COURTESY OF SOKOLOFF & WEINSTEIN, P.A., ATTORNEYS AT LAW, IN ROYAL PALM BEACH.

(561) 790-6788 / 790-4505