As a Jacksonville, Florida Probate Lawyer, I often am asked who can be appointed personal representative in a Florida probate estate. In Florida, the term “personal representative” is used, rather than the term “executor” or “executrix” as the title of the person who is under a duty to settle and distribute the estate of a decedent in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s Will and the Florida Probate Code.
If there is a Will (a testate estate), the person nominated in the Will to serve as the personal representative, or his or her successor, has preference in appointment. If the persons nominated are unwilling or unable to serve, then the person selected by a majority in interest of the beneficiaries (persons entitled to the estate) has the next priority. A third priority in a testate estate is any devisee (person who inherits) under the Will. If more than on e devisee applies to serve as personal representative, the court may select the one best qualified.
If there is no Will (an intestate estate), then the surviving spouse has first priority to serve as personal representative. Next would be a person selected by a majority in interest of the heirs. Third would be the heir nearest in degree. Again, if more than one such heir applies, the court may select the one best qualified.
Who is not qualified? A person is not qualified to act as a personal representative if the person has been convicted of a felony, is under the age of 18 years, or is mentally or physically unable to perform the duties. A nonresident cannot qualify as a personal representative unless that person is a blood relative of the decedent, a legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent, or the spouse of a blood relative.
As a Jacksonville, Florida Probate Lawyer, I can answer your questions about qualifications and preferences in appointment of personal representatives in probate cases in Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties, and any other area in Northeast Florida.