When someone in Florida dies after naming you the personal representative over his or her estate, you have to assume certain responsibilities on that party’s behalf. There are many important steps involved in serving as someone’s personal representative or executor. However, making certain missteps along the way has the potential to come back to bite you.
Per CNBC, mismanaging an estate in any way may expose you to potential liability if one or more of the decedent’s beneficiaries feel you acted out of line in your management of the estate. Some personal representatives wind up facing lawsuits from beneficiaries who believe the personal representative might be guilty of any of the following.
You may face allegations or lawsuits claiming fraud if you took certain actions beneficiaries might consider unethical. For example, if they believe you attempted to edit or reword the decedent’s will for your own benefit, you may face a lawsuit claiming as much.
Failure to perform mandatory duties
There are deadlines involved in managing someone’s estate. There are also certain protocols you must follow in terms of notifying creditors and beneficiaries about the death. Failing to take care of all your personal representative obligations may expose you to a possible lawsuit. Even if for what seem like good reasons you do not wish to probate the estate immediately after your loved one dies, it is important that you consult with an attorney to make sure that you have done things that need to be done to protect the assets of the estate such as freezing the the decedent’s financial accounts and credit cards, making sure their property is insured, and that no one is driving cars titled in their names. These are just a few of the actions your lawyer may urge you to take.
Failure to value or secure property
As a personal representative, you also have to order a professional appraisal for any tangible assets left behind by the decedent. You also have an obligation to keep the deceased party’s home and belongings secure. Neglecting to do so may lead to allegations of mismanaging the estate.
While these are some of the areas in which you may be liable in your personal representative role, this is not an exhaustive list of all areas in which you may face lawsuits. It is important that you work hand in hand with your probate attorney and follow their instructions carefully.