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In a Florida probate, must the Personal Representative be represented by an attorney?

| Dec 5, 2013 | Probate |

With two exceptions, in a formal Florida probate, a Personal Representative must be represented by an attorney.

When a formal probate is filed in Florida, one of the first steps is for the probate court to appoint a Personal Representative, This is the person who will be in charge of the probate estate, including gathering and controlling assets and paying or resolving estate liabilities and distributing estate assets to the beneficiaries. Clients faced with filing a formal probate often ask whether the Personal Representative must be represented by an attorney. Florida Probate Rule 5.030 provides that “Every personal representative, unless the personal representative remains the sole interested person, shall be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida.” So if the Personal Representative is the only interested person, i.e. the only beneficiary, then an attorney is not legally required. Another exception to this rule is when the personal representative is an attorney admitted to practice in Florida. In that case, the attorney may represent himself or herself as Personal Representative. Notwithstanding whether an attorney is required, a Personal Representative is well-advised to not only have an attorney but to have one who practices in the area of probate law. This is especially true given the fact that probate can be quite technical, including deadlines, notice requirements and other procedural and legal complexities of which the Personal Representative needs to be aware.

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