In Florida, must a Personal Representative be represented by counsel?

In Florida, if there are beneficiaries of an estate other than the Personal Representative, then the Personal Representative must have an attorney.

In Florida, when the beneficiaries of the estate includes persons other than the Personal Representative, Florida law requires that the Personal Representative must have an attorney to represent the estate. Although not expressly stated, this requirement is consistent with the concept that the Personal Representative is a fiduciary and owes a duty to all beneficiaries. An attorney can advise the Personal Representative of the responsibilities owed toward the estate and toward the beneficiaries. Failure of the Personal Representative to fulfill their duties can cause dissention and even litigation.

As a practical matter, the deadlines and requirements of Florida probate are sufficiently complicated that having an attorney is necessary for all Personal Representatives, even if not required. While having counsel can incur some expense, the risk of not administering the estate correctly could easily off-set the expense. If a  Personal Representative breaches their duties, the ultimate cost can far outweigh the cost of an attorney.

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