How to Become the Executor of an Estate Without a Will in Florida

By Vanessa Padgalskas

Normally an executor is named in a will, but when someone dies without a will, the court must appoint an executor to administer the estate. In Florida, an executor is called a "personal representative." Florida law dictates who has priority to become the personal representative of an estate.

Who May Serve

A person who is legally capable of handing his own affairs, is at least 18 years old, and is a Florida resident at the time of the decedent's death may be the personal representative. A person may not be appointed personal representative if she has been convicted of a felony or is mentally or physically incapable of performing the required duties. A person who is not a resident of Florida may be appointed personal representative only if the nonresident is a blood relative of the decedent, is a legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent, or is the decedent's surviving spouse.

Preference in Appointment

In an estate without a will, preference for appointment of a personal representative is given to the surviving spouse. If the surviving spouse does not want to be personal representative, preference is then given to the person selected by a majority of the estate's heirs. If the majority of heirs does not select a representative, priority will be given to the person most closely related to the decedent -- often a child. If there is more than one possible appointee, the court may choose what it considers the most qualified heir to be the personal representative.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Application to Become Personal Representative

To become the personal representative, you must file an Application for Administration for an intestate estate. The application must be filled out with the required information, including your priority for being appointed personal representative and the names and addresses of the surviving spouse and all beneficiaries. Florida law requires an applicant for personal representative to be represented by an attorney who can fill out and submit the application. The application must be submitted to the Probate Division for the Circuit Court in the county where the person whose estate is to be administered died.

Providing Notice for Petition of Administration

Notice of the petition for administration does not need to be served when it appears that the petitioner is entitled to preference of appointment as personal representative. For example, this applies if the surviving spouse wants to be personal representative because the surviving spouse is given first priority. Before a person who is not entitled to preference is appointed as personal representative by a court, however, a formal notice must be served on all known persons who meet the qualifications of being appointed personal representative and are entitled to equal or greater preference as the applicant. Notice does not need to be served to qualified persons who have waived their right in writing to become personal representative.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How Soon After Death Must One Probate a Will in California?



Related articles

Maine Statutes for Executors of Wills

In Maine, the executor of a will is referred to as a personal representative. The statutes regarding the duties of the personal representative are found under "Probate of Wills and Administration," in Maine's Revised Statutes. A personal representative may be a relative or friend of the decedent or an attorney or financial institution.

How to Appoint an Executor to Probate in California

An executor in California is a person who is nominated in a will to represent the deceased person’s estate and to carry out the instructions found in the will. A court must approve of the nomination before the nominee can serve as the executor. For most nominees, the court appointment is simply a matter of procedure, but problems can arise if the nominee elects not to serve or if someone contests the nomination.

Massachusetts Laws Regarding the Administrator of an Estate

Probate is the court-supervised process whereby the assets of a deceased person are collected and distributed according to the terms of a will, or by state law if no valid will exists. If named in the will, the person charged with handling the probate process and reporting to the court is usually known as an executor. If not named in the will, or if there is no will, the court appoints an administrator to oversee the distribution of assets.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help. Wills & Trusts

Related articles

How Do You Become an Executor of an Estate in Michigan When One Was Not Appointed?

Generally, will makers, or "testators," name an executor in a last will and testament. However, when an individual dies ...

Estate Administrator Duties

When a person dies, his estate will likely go through the probate process, whether or not he left a will. During ...

How Is an Executor of an Estate Determined in the State of Virginia?

Even if you are named as the executor of a will in Virginia, you still are required to take certain steps to "qualify" ...

What Does a Petition for Letters Mean in Probate Court in California

California’s Superior Court, probate division, generally oversees the administration of estates of a certain size when ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED