Florida Probate Statute 733.610: Sale, Encumbrance, or Transaction Involving Conflict of Interest
A personal representative has a fiduciary relationship with respect to the estate and its beneficiaries or heirs. That means that a personal representative must act with the best interest of the estate in mind. He (or she) must not put his own interest ahead of the estate’s interest. Thus, certain types of transactions and dealings are generally prohibited, such as transactions in which the personal representative would personally benefit. If you are a personal representative, beneficiary, or other interested party involved in the administration of a decedent’s estate, it is important that you understand the duties and responsibilities of the personal representative, including the limitations on transactions described in Florida Statutes, section 733.610- Sale, encumbrance, or transaction involving conflict of interest. The skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have the experience and resources to answer your questions related to the estate administration process and the fiduciary responsibilities of the personal representative.Duties and Responsibilities of a Personal Representative
A personal representative has broad powers with respect to managing a decedent’s estate. He (or she) must take control of the decedent’s estate. Then he must inventory, appraise, and safeguard the assets. In addition, the personal representative is also responsible for making sure estate bills are paid. Bills may include debts left by the decedent, as well as claims filed against the decedent after he or she passed away. Estate bills also include expenses related to the administration of the estate. Finally the personal representative is charged with distributing the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will, or in the absence of a will, to the decedent’s legal heirs.
The law gives personal representatives broad authority to do what is necessary to settle the estate and distribute assets. However, there are limits to the authority of a personal representative. One such limit is that the personal representative must not engage in transactions where there is a conflict of interest.Sale, Encumbrance, or Transaction Involving Conflict of Interest
Because of the fiduciary relationship a personal representative has with an estate, a personal representative is not supposed to engage in transactions with himself, relatives, or friends. This is referred to as self-dealing, is a conflict of interest, and can result in personal liability on the part of the personal representative.
Under section 733.610 of the Florida Probate Code, Sale, encumbrance, or transaction involving conflict of interest, if a personal representative engages in a sale or encumbrance that involves a conflict of interest it is voidable by any interested party, unless the interested party consented to the transaction after receiving full disclosure. There are two exceptions to this general rule. The first exception is where the will or a contract entered into by the decedent expressly authorized the transaction. The second exception is where the court approved the transaction after giving notice to interested persons.
As an experienced estate administration attorney in Fort Lauderdale can explain, there are a wide range of transactions that would result in a conflict of interest. Examples include transactions with the personal representative, the personal representative’s spouse, agent, attorney, or any corporation or trust in which the personal representative has a substantial beneficial interest.Example
The personal representative received approval from the probate court to sell an intestate decedent’s house. It just so happened that the personal representative’s mother wanted to move into the area. Even though there were multiple offers on the house, the personal representative sold the house to his mother for fair market value. However, there was at least one offer that was more than the offer that he accepted from his mother. When one of the beneficiaries learned of the transaction, he immediately contacted an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer to discuss blocking the transaction.Related Statutory Provisions
- Possession of estate: § 733.607, Fla. Stat.
- General power of the personal representative: § 733.608, Fla. Stat.
- Improper exercise of power; breach of fiduciary duty: § 733.609, Fla. Stat.
- Persons dealing with the personal representative; protection: § 733.611, Fla. Stat.
- Transactions authorized for the personal representative; exceptions: § 733.612, Fla. Stat.
Any sale or encumbrance to the personal representative or the personal representative’s spouse, agent, or attorney, or any corporation or trust in which the personal representative has a substantial beneficial interest, or any transaction that is affected by a conflict of interest on the part of the personal representative, is voidable by any interested person except one who has consented after fair disclosure, unless:
- The will or a contract entered into by the decedent expressly authorized the transaction; or
- The transaction is approved by the court after notice to interested persons.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing personal representatives, beneficiaries, heirs, and other parties in matters related to the administration of testate and intestate estates. If you have questions related to the duties and authority of a personal representative, including the application of Florida Probate Code, section 733.610- Sale, encumbrance, or transaction involving conflict of interest, to your situation, we can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.