Removing A Personal Representative From An Estate In Probate Court
Except under extraordinary circumstances, the probate court must follow the instructions in a deceased person’s will. The estate must pay taxes and settle with creditors before the beneficiaries can receive the assets designated for them in the will, but the testator (the author of the will) has the final say regarding who should act as personal representative of the estate and who the beneficiaries are who will inherit from it. Conflicts between personal representatives and beneficiaries during probate are fairly common, but the court is usually able to resolve them. Even if the personal representative of the estate is difficult to deal with or is your personal enemy, you cannot ask the court to relieve the personal representative of their duties unless you have a legally valid reason for this. An Orlando probate lawyer can help you deal with a difficult personal representative, whether or not trying to remove them from the estate is the best option.
When Do Beneficiaries Have the Right to Remove the Personal Representative From the Estate?
Florida statute 733.054 lists the legally valid reasons for which beneficiaries may petition the probate court to remove the personal representative from the estate:
- The personal representative is unable to perform their legal duties as personal representative because of ill health.
- The personal representative has a financial conflict of interest that would make it impossible for them to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries.
- The personal representative has demonstrably failed to keep accurate records regarding the estate’s financial transactions, including but not limited to payment of debts and sale of property belonging to the estate.
- The personal representative has been convicted of a felony before or after the estate opened for probate.
- The personal representative has failed to comply with a court order, unless a matter related to the court order is still under appeal.
How to Petition the Court to Remove a Personal Representative
If you wish to remove a personal representative from an estate of which you are a beneficiary, the first step is to file a Petition for Removal. You must also serve the personal representative with a copy of the petition. The next step is a hearing, where the parties may agree to a solution that does not involve removal of the personal representative. If you are unable to reach an agreement, the dispute then proceeds to trial, and the judge decides whether the personal representative should stay or go. If the court decides to remove the personal representative, the court will need to appoint a new personal representative who will pick up the case where the original personal representative left off. In either case, if things are so complicated that you are considering removing the personal representative, you should hire a probate lawyer.
Contact Gierach and Gierach About Complicated Probate Cases
A probate lawyer can help you if the personal representative of your family member’s estate is making things difficult for you and the other beneficiaries. Contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.