Who Can"t Serve as Your Personal Representative in Florida?

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Recently I received an email asking me about Florida's quirky laws regarding who can, and can't, serve as Personal Representative of your estate. Florida Statute §733.304 is unusual in that it states the following:
733.304 Nonresidents.--A person who is not domiciled in the state cannot qualify as personal representative unless the person is:
  1. A legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent;
  2. Related by lineal consanguinity to the decedent;
  3. A spouse or a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the decedent, or someone related by lineal consanguinity to any such person; or
  4. The spouse of a person otherwise qualified under this section.



What does this mean in plain English? That you can't name your friend who lives in Chicago as your Florida Personal Representative, but you can name your niece who lives in Chicago as your Florida Personal Representative.

So what are the options for a Florida resident who doesn't have any relatives they want to name as their Personal Representative? There are several:
  1. A neighbor or friend who lives in Florida can be named as Personal Representative.
  2. An attorney who is licensed to practice in Florida and lives in Florida can be named as Personal Representative.
  3. A bank or trust company authorized and qualified to exercise fiduciary powers in Florida can be named as Personal Representative.
  4. A Revocable Living Trust can be created and funded and then anyone can be named as the Successor Trustee since there aren't any relationship or residency restrictions on who can be named as a Successor Trustee in Florida.

Note that Florida Statute §733.304 also applies to a nonresident who owns real estate in Florida - in other words, the nonresident must either name a qualified relative, a non-relative who is a Florida resident, or a Florida bank or trust company as Personal Representative in their Last Will and Testament with regard to the probate of the nonresident's Florida real estate.

If you're a Florida resident or you own real estate in Florida and you don't have any qualified relatives or Florida friends who you want to name as your Personal Representative, then consult with a Florida estate planning attorney or a Florida bank or trust company to discuss all of your options and figure out what will work the best in your situation.
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