Removal of Personal Representative
When an estate is created in Florida, a personal representative must be appointed. This is a person whom you trust to perform all duties related to the estate, including preserving estate assets, accounting for the assets, paying creditors that have claims against the estate, and paying beneficiaries according to the will or trust terms. A trustee fulfills a role with duties similar to that of the personal representative in connection with someone's trust when he or she dies. Personal representatives and trustees have a number of obligations, including the duty to avoid delays and act responsibly in connection with the trust. When they fail to comply with their responsibilities, they can be removed by beneficiaries. From our offices in Ocala, the probate litigation attorneys at the Dean Law Firm represent people around the United States with proceedings in Florida courts.How to Remove a Personal Representative
If you are concerned about the performance of a personal representative, there are several options available. Florida Statute 733.504 provides a list of causes to remove a personal representative. These reasons include:
- A personal representative wasting or failing to properly administer an estate;
- A personal representative failing to account for a property sale or produce assets when required to produce them;
- A court entering a judgment declaring a personal representative incapacitated;
- A personal representative suffering from a physical or mental incapacity that makes him or her unable to discharge duties;
- A personal representative failing to comply with a court order not superseded by appeal;
- A personal representative failing to give a bond or security;
- A personal representative getting convicted of a felony;
- A personal representative having an adverse interest against the estate that could interfere with administration duties, except where the representative is a surviving spouse of the decedent trying to exercise the right to an elective share, exemption, or family allowance; or
- When the probate court has revoked the decedent's will designating the personal representative.
You can file a petition for removal if you meet one of these grounds and are a beneficiary. A simple disagreement between a beneficiary and a personal representative is usually not enough to support the removal, but there is no clear rule that the grounds listed above are the exclusive grounds for removing a personal representative.
Usually, there has to be some type of waste or mismanagement of the estate to support a removal petition. The court has discretion over the degree to which one of these grounds must be met. For example, a court may consider whether a personal representative's adverse interests are sufficient for that person to be removed.Discuss Your Estate Dispute with a Crystal River Attorney
At the Dean Law Firm in Ocala, our estate litigation lawyers can review the record and evaluate whether a personal representative is endangering or mismanaging an estate’s assets. If there is evidence to suggest that any of these reasons to seek removal exists, we can file a petition for removal of the personal representative in the probate court where the estate is being administered. It is also possible to seek removal where a will or trust is not valid. If the court grants the petition for the removal of a personal representative or trustee, it will take away that person’s authority to administer the decedent's estate or trust. Call 352-387-8700 or fill out our contact form to schedule an initial consultation with the Dean Law Firm. We represent clients in Sumter, Marion, Citrus, Lake, and Levy Counties.