A non-resident of Florida can serve as Personal Representative for a Florida probate estate only if related by blood or legal adoption to the decedent, or married to a lineal blood or legally adopted relation of the decedent.
Fla. Stat. §733.304 states that a non resident who is not domiciled in the state of Florida cannot qualify as person representative unless they are:
1. A legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent;
2. Related by lineal consanguinity (in the bloodline) to the decedent;
3. A spouse, or a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the decedent, or someone related by lineal consanguinity to any such person; or
4. The spouse of a person who otherwise qualified under this section.
It is a common mistake to assume any one can act as a Personal Representative:
The decedent in their Will names a non-resident of Florida, such as a close friend, or an out of state attorney as their Personal Representative. These individuals would not qualify to serve as the personal representative.
What Happens Then?
If the will has an order of succession for Personal Representatives then the next qualified in line individual can then serve.
Failing that, then we look to Fla. Stat. §733.301, then the next eligible person in an estate would be a person selected by a majority of the estate’s. If no such majority is reached, then any beneficiary can serve. If there is a dispute over this, the court may make the final selection. Keep in mind that the person selected by the majority of the beneficiaries must be a Florida resident to qualify.
ALSO: All Trust companies incorporated under Florida law, and all state banking corporations, savings associations, national banking associations and federal savings and loan associations that are authorized and qualified to exercise fiduciary powers in Florida are qualified to act as personal representative. See Fla. Stat. §733.305.
If you have questions about your Last Will and Testament, please call Thompson, Crawford, Brown and Smiley at (850)386-5777.