The death of a person usually means that a court will have to open probate in order to settle the affairs of that person’s estate. That person’s heirs are the people who inherit property from a last will and testament or through the application of Florida’s intestacy statute. The state’s probate courts have significant powers to evaluate the legitimacy of wills, oversee the actions of personal representatives, and ensure that heirs receive the property that they deserve. It often falls to these heirs to stand up for their rights and observe the actions of personal representatives to ensure that they comply with state law and the language of an authentic will, if one exists.

A South Miami estate litigation lawyer may be able to help. One of our determined probate attorneys can assist personal representatives who are facing accusations of breaches of their duty to the estate, or help heirs initiate lawsuits against representatives when they suspect that violations of the law have led to the loss of property.

The Role of the Personal Representative Under State Law

The most important individual during the estate administration process is the personal representative. This is a person who has the sole authority to take control of a decedent’s estate to pay debts and distribute the remaining property to the heirs.

The personal representative receives their power by court order. While a last will and testament may nominate a person to serve in this role, only a probate court’s issuance of Letters Testamentary authorize this person to take control over property, and take all necessary steps to protect that property and pay the decedent’s debts.

By law, that personal representative must act with good faith for the benefit of the heirs. Under Florida Statute § 733.602, this is a legal duty for which the representative is personally responsible. The debate over whether a representative has fulfilled this duty is the most common source of litigation concerning probate. A South Miami estate litigation attorney can provide more information about personal representatives and their roles in managing an estate.

Litigation Related to the Administration of an Estate

It is difficult to understand the immense role that a personal representative will play in the administration of an estate. Florida law is clear that these individuals need to perform their duties with prudence and for the well-being of the estate. Failures to do so could open them up to litigation.

Any heir or other interested party may ask a probate court to evaluate the actions of personal representatives if they feel that they have failed in their duties under the law. These duties include filing notices with creditors, submitting an inventory of the estate’s assets to the court, and notifying beneficiaries of the opening of the estate. An estate litigation attorney can help evaluate the actions of personal representatives to determine if they have met this standard. If not, an attorney can pursue litigation to remove the personal representative from that role; or, alternatively, help a representative by pushing back on accusations that they have not been performing their role correctly.

Reach Out to a South Miami Estate Litigation Attorney Today

The estate administration process determines the property rights of heirs at law and all other presumptive beneficiaries. However, only the personal representative of an estate has the authority to distribute this property. This gives them a lot of decision-making power, but it can be challenged if a potential beneficiary disagrees with their choices.

If you suspect that a personal representative has failed in this obligation, or if you are a representative who is facing criticism, a South Miami estate litigation lawyer could represent you in court. Schedule a free consultation with The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm today so we can help you get this resolved immediately.