Will You? … Will you be my special one?

No, we’re not talking about a marriage proposal. We’re talking about taking the role as a personal representative in your estate planning matters. What is a personal representative, you ask?

A personal representative is an individual appointed to be in charge of the decedent’s probate estate. The most important duties a personal representative has under the law are locating and safeguarding the decedent’s assets for the estate, notifying the decedent’s creditors of the estate so they can file their claims, paying the valid claims, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries of the estate. As a personal representative, you hold a special position based on trust and reliance as a “fiduciary”. Therefore, you must always act in accordance with the terms of the will, while keeping in mind the best interest of the estate’s creditors and beneficiaries. In addition, you must also administer the estate as required by Florida Probate Law and Federal Tax Law. If you mismanage the estate, you will be liable for any harm the beneficiaries and creditors suffer as a result.

A full listing of all personal rep’s duties can be found here –> FL Statutes 

How Much Do Personal Representatives Get Paid?

Under § 733.617, Florida Statutes, you are entitled to reasonable compensation for your work as a personal representative from the estate’s assets. Compensation is based on the inventory value of the estate’s assets and the income earned by the state while it is being administered. Unless the will provides otherwise, reasonable compensation, under Florida law is[1]:

  • Three percent (3%) for the first $1 million;
  • Two and a half percent (2.5%) for anything above $1 million but not exceeding $5 million;
  • Two percent (2%) for anything above $5 million but not exceeding $10 million; and
  • One and a half percent (1.5%) for anything above $10 million.

Additionally, a personal representative can be further compensated for extraordinary services, like selling real or personal property, dealing with litigation on behalf or against the estate, tax proceedings, and carrying on the decedent’s business. If, however, an interested party in the estate, such as a creditor or beneficiary, does not agree with your compensation, they may petition the court to review your compensation. The court may then increase or decrease your regular compensation or award compensation for extraordinary services based on several factors.

Find the statute here —> FL Statutes 

What Steps Does A Personal Representative Need to Take?

Within ten (10) days of the decedent’s death, the personal representative must file the original will with the County Clerk and submit Notice of Administration to the decedent’s surviving spouse and beneficiaries of the will. Next, the personal representative must identify, locate, and safeguard the estate’s real and personal property, and determine the value of the property through a licensed appraiser. After the property is appraised, calculate the value of all the property in the estate. Once this information is gathered, you must file a petition in probate court for the proceedings, known as a Summary Administration.

You must also provide notice to all the interested parties to the estate of the probate filing. The personal representative must also conduct a diligent search of the decedent’s creditors, and promptly notify them of the estate and any pending proceedings in probate court. In addition, the personal representative may be required to file federal income tax returns for the decedent and the estate, and pay any amounts owed by the decedent or the estate to the IRS from the probate assets.

How Much Does it Cost to Start an Estate in Probate Court?

In Miami-Dade County, there is a $232.00 fee for opening an estate. A Summary Administration filing fee for an estate valued less than $1,000.00 is $236.00, and over $1,000.00 is $346.00. Other fees may apply depending on the value of the estate and whether an annual accounting is required for the administration of the estate.

If, however, the decedent had no real property, and the assets of the estate are less than $6,000.00, you may file a Disposition of Personal Property or Small Estates Petition with the probate court in person or by mail. In order to qualify, the decedent must have been a resident of Miami-Dade County at the time of death, and the assets must be $6,000.00 or less. There may be other restrictions that are applicable depending on the facts and circumstances.

Estate planning is a very important step for you and your loved ones. Contact EPGD Business Law. at (786) 837-6787 or visit us in our beautiful Coral Gables office to learn more about probate proceedings and estates.