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Can You Appoint Someone Who Lives Out of State as the Personal Representative of Your Estate?


Today, it is common to live hundreds of miles away from your closest relatives and most trusted friends.  Every year many people travel from out of state to visit their grandparents in Florida; the flipside is that many elderly Florida residents do not have any family members living in Florida.  You are wise to talk to your relatives now about your plans for your estate, and even wiser to have a tentative but detailed plan in place, so that you will not have to go back to square one with estate planning if your family member disagrees with you about part of your plan.  Should you tell your son, daughter, or sibling who lives in another state that you plan to name them in your will as personal representative of your estate?  Is it better to choose a personal representative who lives in Florida, even if your relationship with that person is professional instead of personal, such as a lawyer?  Before you decide, it is best to consult a Florida estate planning lawyer, even if you have already drafted a will and just want to review it.

Eligibility Requirements for Personal Representatives of Estates in Florida

Florida Statute 733.304 determines the eligibility requirements for a person to serve as the personal representative of the estate of a deceased person.  The term “executor” is sometimes used as a synonym for “personal representative.”  In general, the personal representative must be a resident of Florida.  The only exceptions are the following close relatives, who can act as the personal representative even if they do not live in Florida:

  • A son or daughter related by blood or adoption
  • A biological or adoptive parent
  • A spouse
  • A sibling
  • An aunt or uncle
  • A spouse or direct descendant of any of the above people

By these rules, it is possible to name your stepson, sister-in-law, niece, or grandson as the personal representative of your estate, to name just a few examples.  A first cousin can be your personal representative, but not a second cousin.

The Worst-Case Scenario

If the person you name as a personal representative is not eligible to serve as such, it is as bad for your estate as if you had not named a personal representative at all.  According to Florida Statute 703.301, the personal representative is chosen by a vote among the people entitled to your estate.  In other words, it could turn into a big dispute about who gets to represent the estate, making the probate process take even longer than it ordinarily would.  The best way to avoid this problem and any other problem that could arise during probate is to work with an estate planning attorney.  It is never too early to start making plans for your estate.

Contact William Rambaum, PA About Estate Planning

An estate planning lawyer can help you arrange to have your most trusted relative or friend act as the personal representative of your estate.  Contact Clearwater estate planning lawyer William Rambaum to discuss your questions.


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