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Under Florida law, a decedent’s personal representative is charged with specific rights and responsibilities. One of the most prominent such responsibilities is opening the estate in probate court so the decedent’s assets can be collected and processed. The estate will also settle any unpaid debts the decedent owed to creditors.

Under normal circumstances, opening the estate involves two primary steps:

  • Filing a petition with the clerk of the court, and having the case assigned to a circuit court judge
  • Receiving an order of appointment from the court, and letters of administration which define the legal powers and entitlements of the personal representative

Once the estate has been opened, the personal representative will then proceed to preside over the collection and administration of the decedent’s assets, which are transferred to a restricted depository account.

While the personal representative tasked with opening the estate is usually identified in the decedent’s will, certain circumstances may require them to be appointed by the court. This typically happens in cases where the decedent did not leave behind a valid will. In order to serve as a personal representative, an individual must be a resident of Florida, or a close personal relative of the decedent. Alternately, a bank or trust company equipped with fiduciary powers in the state of Florida may serve as the personal representative.

A wide range of legal issues and complications can arise during the opening of a decedent’s estate, which is why personal representatives are always advised to work with knowledgeable attorneys. The legal team at Pollack Pollack & Kogan has extensive experience in all aspects of Florida probate law. If you’re in need of legal advice or counsel, contact Pollack Pollack & Kogan by email at info@PPKfirm.com or call 305-373-9676.