The Out-of-State Personal Representative

The Out-of-State Personal Representative

Probate can become complicated, especially when an out-of-state personal representative is involved.

What is a personal representative?

The person who takes on the responsibility of shepherding an estate through probate is a personal representative. This person is also sometimes referred to as the executor.

Someone who wants to serve as a personal representative must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age,
  • Never have been convicted of a felony,
  • Be mentally and physically able to perform the duties of personal representative, and
  • Reside in Florida at the time of the decedent’s death, with some exceptions discussed below.

The last qualification sometimes causes problems during probate.

Why is having an out-of-state personal representative difficult?

Florida law states that nonresidents cannot serve as personal representative unless they are:

  • a legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent;
  • related by direct blood line,
  • A spouse, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the decedent, or someone related by direct bloodline to such a person, or
  • The spouse of a person who is otherwise qualified to serve.

As an example, let’s look at Terry who is working on her estate plan. She has several people in mind to name as her estate’s personal representative. Terry is very close to her sister, but she is not mentally able to handle being the personal representative. Terry’s brother lives in Florida but is unable to serve due to a felony conviction. Her best friend lives out of state but is disqualified from serving because she is not related by blood to Terry or anyone in her family. Terry’s favorite aunt DeeDee, however, is qualified to serve in every way. Although DeeDee lives out of state, she would qualify under (3) listed above.

A non-resident relative or friend may qualify to act as personal representative but find the job very difficult to handle long distance. Having a local attorney is one way to handle being an out-of-state personal representative.

Having an out-of-state personal representative is not a deal breaker.

Talk to an attorney if you plan to name an out-of-state personal representative in your Will or you are probating an estate now.

John Mangan is an experienced Florida estate planning attorney, who has been board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by the Florida Bar. Call Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A. at 772-324-9050 to set up an appointment or use our online Contact Form.

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