When a loved one dies, his or her estate may have to go through court for distribution. This process, known as probate, may intimidate you since you likely have not had to deal with it before.
One thing that may complicate things is that the deceased was a Florida resident, and you live elsewhere. It is not uncommon for a personal representative to live in a different state than the deceased. While probate laws vary depending on the state, there are some things that you should keep in mind to avoid some costly mistakes.
Proving you qualify as a personal representative
Under Florida law, a valid personal representative must fulfill certain requirements to serve in probate court. One of these is that you should reside in the state. However, under the law, you may still serve as executor even if you do not live in Florida, providing:
- You are a direct descendent
- You are a sibling or other blood relative
- You are an adopted child or parent
- You are a spouse to anyone related in the above ways
Missing key deadlines
Probate is like any other court in that it imposes timeframes for completing actions. A common mistake a personal representative may make is missing one or more of these dates. For instance, under Florida law, someone with an original will must file it within 10 days of death. If it is not done, you may face a contempt of court charge. You must meet other court-imposed deadlines, such as sending notices to creditors and beneficiaries, or you may face the same contempt charge.
One of the biggest mistakes you may make is trying to go through probate without guidance. The process may take much longer and result in a long delay in disbursement.