Florida Probate Statute 733.901: Final Discharge
The job of a personal representative in Florida, is to perform the administrative duties required to settle the estate of a decedent. The administrative process begins when a petition is filed with the probate court, requesting that that the will (if there is one) be admitted to probate and that the court issue appointed a personal representative. The tasks of a personal representative are many. His (or her) job is not done until all the tasks are completed, including asset distribution, and he has been discharged. To learn more about the steps involved in probate proceedings and the estate administration process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.901- Final discharge, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have extensive experience with estate matters and understand the role and responsibilities of the personal representative.Final Discharge
According to FL. Stat, section 733.901- Final discharge, all the steps involved in estate administration have been completed, the probate court will discharge the personal representative. This means that the personal representative is released and that any action against him individually or any action against the surety that guaranteed his bond is barred.Estate Administration
The process of estate administration begins with the probate court judge issues a petitioner letters of administration, formally appointing him (or her) as personal representative. The letters also serve as legal proof that the person has the legal right to act on behalf of the estate.
Inventory. One of the first responsibilities of the personal representative in the estate administration process is to collect the assets that are part of the decedent’s probate estate and inventory them. The inventory must include the value of each asset (or class of assets) as of the date of the decedent’s death.
As an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer will explain, it is important that they personal representative understand the difference between probate assets and non-probate assets as only probate assets are affected by the court supervised estate administration process. In general terms, probate assets include property owned by the decedent individually at the time of his death such as real estate, vehicles, clothing, jewelry, home furnishings, appliances, and collectibles. Non-probate property includes real estate and other property co-owned by the decedent as a joint tenant and property that has a designated beneficiary such as a retirement plan or life insurance policy proceeds.
The inventory is important because after it is completed the personal representative will know how much money is available to take care of estate business such as pay debts, pay expenses, and to distribute. In addition, the amount of commission due the personal representative is based on the value of the estate.
Pay estate debt. The next step is that the personal representative must notify creditors, review claims, and pay estate debt and expenses. The personal representative is responsible for paying only valid claims that are timely filed, and only to the extent that there are sufficient assets in the estate to pay such claims. Where there are insufficient assets, the personal representative must base his decisions on which debts and expenses to pay based on the statutory preference order. For example, the highest priority is paying the expenses of administration, followed by funeral expenses (up to $6,000), and debts owed to the government.
The personal representative is also required to file outstanding tax forms and pay taxes owed by the estate.
Distribution of assets. Typically, the personal representative will not distribute assets until all debts have been paid. Otherwise, he (or she) will be vulnerable to personal liability should there be insufficient assets to pay a valid timely filed claim because of early asset distribution. Assets are distribution based on the terms of the will, limited by the application of statutory abatement rules where necessary. In the absence of a will, assets are distributed to the decedent’s next of kin based Florida’s intestacy rules.Petition for Discharge
When the personal representative has completed his administration activities, the next step would be to file a petition with the probate court for discharge. The petition should include statement that all claims which were presented have been paid, settled, or otherwise disposed of. It should also state that the expenses related to administration have been paid, and the amount of compensation paid or to be paid to the personal representative. It must also include a plan of distribution, indicating distributions that have already been made and that are to be made. An experienced estate administration attorney serving Fort Lauderdale can assist with the preparation and filing of the petition for discharge.Related Statutory Provisions
- Final discharge: § 733.901, Fla. Stat.
- Subsequent administration: § 733.903, Fla. Stat.
- After administration has been completed, the personal representative shall be discharged.
- The discharge of the personal representative shall release the personal representative and shall bar any action against the personal representative, as such or individually, and the surety.
To learn more about the steps the personal representative must take in estate administration and filing the petition for discharge, contact an experienced estate administration serving Fort Lauderdale. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience working closely with personal representatives and other interested parties in all aspects of estate administration, and understand the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.901- Final discharge. We can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.