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Florida Probate Statute 733.603: Personal Representative to Proceed Without Court Order

When someone passes away, the property that he (or she) leaves behind is called his estate. The loose ends in the estate must be settled and the property in the estate must be passed on to others. This occurs during a process called Estate administration and is handled by a personal representative who is appointed by the Florida probate court. Once the personal representative has been formally appointed, he (or she) has the legal authority to take the required steps to settle the estate without further order of the court. Whether you are a personal representative, beneficiary, or other interested party, to learn more about the estate administration process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.603- Personal representative to proceed without court order, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who has the experience and skill to ensure that all of the requirements of the Florida Probate Code are followed.

Process for Being Appointed Personal Representative

In Florida, before someone is officially appointed to serve as the personal representative of an estate, the person must file a petition with the Florida probate court. This is the case even where a testator names a person as personal representative or executor in his (or her) will. The person must still filed a petition requesting the appointment. The court will then review the petition and determine if the petitioner is qualified to serve. If the court approves the petition, the court will issue an order that appoints him (or her) as the personal representative and granting him letters of administration. As an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate lawyer will explain, the letters of administration are critical as they are necessary for the personal representative to perform duties required to manage the estate such as opening an estate bank account or represent the estate in court.

Responsibilities of the Personal Representative

Under the Florida Probate Code, section 733.603- Personal representative to proceed without court order, once the personal representative has received the letters of administration, he must quickly move forward with the settlement and distribution of the decedent’s estate. Furthermore, unless the law or a court order provides otherwise, the personal representative has the authority to complete the activities necessary to settle the estate and distribute assets without an order of the court and without direction from the court.

The duties of the personal representative are as follows:

  • Inventory assets. One of the first responsibilities of a personal representative is to identify the assets that are a part of the decedent’s probate estate, inventory them, appraise them, and safeguard them. As an estate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale will explain, not all property owned by the decedent is probate property subject to the court supervised estate administration process. Some assets such as retirement accounts, life insurance, and assets transferred to a living trust are not probate assets. Such assets will automatically to the named beneficiaries outside of the probate process. Similarly, real estate that is co-owned with others as joint tenants with survivorship rights is not probate property.
  • The personal representative is required to file the inventory of the estate assets with the probate court. The inventory must include all real and personal property that is part of the probate estate (as well as real estate that is not probate property), along with the property’s value as of the date of the decedent’s death.
  • Pay estate debts. The personal representative must pay estate debts. This may include bills that the decedent accrued before death such as personal loans, car notes, and credit card bills. In addition, creditors may submit claims to the personal representative. Such claims may be normal bills such as an outstanding credit card bill, or it may be a lawsuit suit as a personal injury claim. In addition, expenses related to managing the estate must be paid out of estate assets.
  • Distributing estate assets. After estate debts and expenses are paid, the personal representative must distribute the estates that remain in the estate to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs.

During the course of administration there may be complications that may make the personal representative’s job more challenging. For example, there may be disputes among beneficiaries, between beneficiaries and fiduciaries, or between the estate and claimants. There may also be issues related to asset distribute due to there being insufficient assets to distribute to beneficiaries, or due to a beneficiary or heir being difficult to locate.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Petition: § 733.202, Fla. Stat.
  2. General duties: § 733.602, Fla. Stat.
  3. Opening safe-deposit box: § 733.6065, Fla. Stat.
  4. Possession of estate: § 733.607, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, Section 733.603- Personal Representative to Proceed Without Court Order

A personal representative shall proceed expeditiously with the settlement and distribution of a decedent’s estate and, except as otherwise specified by this code or ordered by the court, shall do so without adjudication, order, or direction of the court. A personal representative may invoke the jurisdiction of the court to resolve questions concerning the estate or its administration.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in matters related to the administration of estates, estate litigation, and other estate matters. If you have questions related to the duties and authority of personal representative, including the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.603- Personal representative to proceed without court order, we can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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