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When someone dies, he or she leaves behind an estate. This estate requires distributing and management to ensure the person’s wishes are properly carried out. In Florida, the person who administers the estate is a personal representative. Other states may call this position an executor or administrator. If you become the personal representative for an estate, it is essential to understand the requirements of the position.

The Florida Bar explains as a personal representative, you have certain legal duties to the estate that you must carry out. This includes managing the assets from start to finish by properly distributing them, protecting them against false claims and paying debts due. You must also publish notices that alert creditors and others and explains how to make a claim against the estate. If a claim occurs, you need to defend against it in court or administer the proper assets if valid. In the course of managing the estate, you also can hire professionals if needed to assist. Finally, you close the estate once you distribute all assets and handle all debts.

You may become a personal representative by being named in the will. If the person does not name someone in the will, the court will appoint the spouse if available or if not, have the heirs vote for one. To hold this position, you must be mentally able to manage the estate and at least 18 years old. You also must reside in Florida or be a close relative.

When acting as a personal representative, there is a chance you could be held liable for any mismanagement of the estate. This is why it is important to understand the role and responsibilities. This information is for education and is not legal advice.