In Florida, when a loved one passes away, the estate of the decedent must goes through the Florida probate process. Decedent is the legal term for a deceased person. As a part of the probate process, a Florida personal representative must be appointed to manage the distribution of the estate. The personal representative is usually named in the decedent’s will. However, if the will is silent on the matter, or if the deceased passed away intestate (without a will), then a Florida Probate Judge will appoint someone as the personal representative.
Whoever the personal representative is, he or she has a fiduciary duty to the estate and to the heirs of the estate. This means that he or she may be personally liable for any injury (even monetary harm) caused by improperly executing the probate process.
This great risk of personal liability is one reason why by law Florida personal representatives must hire an attorney to represent them in the probate process. The personal representative has the sole authority to hire an attorney to oversee the probate process, regardless of whether the will attempts to name an attorney.
To ensure that your loved one’s estate is properly executed and to protect yourself from the potential liability you face as personal representative, it is best to hire an experienced estate attorney to oversee the probate process.