Probate is the legal process for the management and closing of a decedent’s estate. In formal probate administration, a judge appoints a personal representative to administer the estate.
The personal representative can be an individual, a financial institution or a trust company. This entity is in charge of following the instructions in the will and closing the estate. Depending on the size and complexity of the decedent’s estate, it may take more than a year to wrap things up.
Duties of the personal representative
According to The Florida Bar, one of the first duties of the personal representative is to locate and collect all assets listed in the will. Once the personal representative assigns a value to the assets, he or she must keep them in a safe place.
The personal representative must pay off all legitimate debts of the estate. Part of this process is putting out a notice to potential creditors. Generally, creditors have up to three months to file a claim for payment.
The personal representative must pay necessary and ongoing estate-related expenses such as the mortgage. He or she must also file tax returns and pay any due taxes.
Once the personal representative pays the estate expenses, funeral expenses debts, taxes and statutory amounts to the decedent’s family, he or she can then distribute the remaining assets to the heirs.
Compensation for a personal representative
Because of the amount of work involved with administering an estate, the personal representative does receive compensation for the role. The Florida Senate outlines that the basis of compensation is the estate’s compensable value. The court deems reasonable compensation to be:
- 3% for the first $1 million
- 5% for values between $1 million and $5 million
- 2% for between $5 and $10 million
- 5% for values over $10 million
The personal representative may also receive additional compensation for extraordinary services such as the sale of property, the involvement in litigation or involvement in the decedent’s business. Payment for the personal representative comes from the estate’s assets.