In Florida, every guardian and every personal representative, unless the personal representative remains the sole interested person, shall be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida. A guardian or personal representative who is an attorney admitted to practice in Florida may represent himself or herself as guardian or personal representative. Fla. Prob. R. 5.030 (a).
In nearly all Florida probate cases, it’s important, and typically required, that the personal representative of an Estate have legal representation. Even in the simplest probate case, legal issues are likely to arise. There will be statutory requirements and issues where the Court requires an attorney to be part of the process to assist in advising the personal representative of rights, duties, and obligations they have to the estate and beneficiaries. There are numerous complex matters that can arise during the administration of an estate, in addition to deadlines, duties and other responsibilities that a personal representative must comply with or face potential liability from the heirs or beneficiaries.
Florida Statute § 733.106 (3) states that any attorney who has rendered services to the estate may be awarded reasonable compensation from the estate. Florida Statute 733.6171(1) states that attorneys for personal representatives shall be entitled to reasonable compensation payable from the estate assets without court order. The personal representative has full discretion in choosing who he or she wishes to hire as their attorney and any fees or costs incurred by such representation are payable from the estate assets. It would certainly seem unfair that a personal representative be required to hire an attorney then have to pay them out of their own pocket for services rendered to an estate, hence the rules allowing the personal representative’s attorney be compensated for their services from the assets of the estate.
An experienced Florida probate attorney can guide a personal representative through the process of administering the estate and provide peace of mind to a fiduciary trying to weave their way through the complexities of a formal estate administration. If you have been named in a Will as personal representative or executor, contact an experienced Florida Probate attorney right away to assist you with getting appointed and reducing your potential exposure to liability from the heirs and beneficiaries for failing to comply with your duties and take the necessary steps to begin the administration process within the statutory deadlines required under all Florida Probate cases.