Removing a Personal Representative
A personal representative is the person appointed by the probate court to administer a decedent's estate and distribute the assets. If the decedent left a will, the court usually appoints the person chosen in the will. Where there is no will, the court selects a personal representative based on a statutory order of preference. In general, any competent adult who is a Florida resident may serve. As a beneficiary, you may be unhappy with the court's appointment and wish to have the personal representative removed. Florida's probate code provides you with a mechanism for doing so, if you can satisfy the court that one of the statutory grounds for removal exists.
Who can apply for removal?
Under the probate code, any "interested person" may apply to the court. An "interested person" is someone reasonably expected to be affected by the outcome of a proceeding. If you are a beneficiary, you would likely qualify unless you had already received a complete distribution of your inheritance.
Statutory grounds for removal
A personal representative may be removed for any one of the following reasons, among others:
- mental or physical incapacity, making them incapable of discharging their duties
- non-compliance with a court order
- failing to account for the sale of estate property or to produce the estate's assets when required to do so
- poor administration or wasting of the estate's assets
- felony conviction
- conflicting or adverse interests (e.g. when the personal representative has a claim against the estate) which could interfere with the administration of the estate, except in the case of a surviving spouse with regard to the exercise of the right to the family allowance, elective share or exemptions
- proof of revocation of the will under which the personal representative was appointed
While some grounds, such as a felony conviction, may be quite easily proven, others (such as poor administration) can be more difficult to prove.
For advice about removing a personal representative, contact an experienced Florida probate litigation attorney.