When Can You Remove the Personal Representative of a Florida Probate Estate?
The Personal Representative is the person responsible for administering a Florida probate estate. Also known as an executor, the Personal Representative has a fiduciary duty to all of the beneficiaries of the Estate. Unless the Personal Representative is also the sole beneficiary, they must not put their interests above those of the other beneficiaries.
In some cases, it is possible to remove a Personal Representative who breaches their fiduciary duty or otherwise acts in a manner contrary to the best interests of the Estate. Under Florida law, any interested person–someone with a vested interest in the affairs of the Estate–may petition a judge to remove the Personal Representative. The Court can also initiate removal proceedings on its own initiative. Of course, removal is not justified just because the petitioner (or the judge) dislikes the Personal Representative or would have preferred someone else get the appointment.
Instead, removal is limited to those reasons specified in Florida law, which include:
- The personal representative should not have been appointed in the first place because they were not qualified to act under Florida law.
- The personal representative is unable to perform their duties due to some physical or mental incapacity.
- The personal representative has not complied with any court orders related to the estate.
- The personal representative has failed to account for the sale of any estate property.
- The personal representative engaged in wasteful spending with the estate’s resources.
- The personal representative failed to give any required bond to secure their performance.
- The personal representative has been convicted of a felony.
- If the personal representative is a corporation, it has gone bankrupt or otherwise been declared insolvent.
- Unless the personal representative was the surviving spouse of the deceased, there is a conflict of interest that could interfere with the proper administration of the estate.
- The court has revoked probate of the will authorizing the personal representative’s appointment.
- If the personal representative was required to reside in Florida, they are no longer a Florida resident.
What Happens After a Personal Representative Is Removed?
If the Court finds there is just cause under Florida law to remove a Personal Representative, the next step is for the Court to appoint a Successor Personal Representative. Alternatively, the court may appoint a temporary curator to oversee the Estate until a new personal representative is named. The removed Personal Representative is required to surrender all of the Estate’s assets to the Successor Personal Representative or Curator.
The ousted Personal Representative must also provide the Court with a Final Accounting of the estate up to the date of their removal. Despite their removal, the former Personal Representative may still be entitled to compensation for services rendered. The Court may also need to determine if the removed Personal Representative is financially liable for any acts of maladministration or misconduct related to the Estate.
Speak with a Florida Probate Litigation Attorney
If you are involved in a potential removal proceeding involving a Personal Representative, it is important to seek out qualified legal advice and representation. To speak with an experienced Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation attorney, contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A., Attorney at Law, today to schedule a consultation.