In Florida, can you lose the right to challenge who serves as Personal Representative?

Timing can mean everything in probate--including when to challenge a person being appointed as Personal Representative of an estate.

As with objecting to a Will, Florida law provides a mechanism for any interested person (beneficiary, creditors, etc.) to be put on a "time-clock" to object to a person being appointed as Personal Representative. The document that starts the clock is known as a Notice of Administration. Section 733.212(3) Fla. Stat. provides that "[a]ny interested person on whom a copy of the Notice of Administration is served must object to the....qualifications of the personal representative, filing a petition or other pleading requesting relief in accordance with the Florida Probate Rules on or before the date that is 3 months after the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration on the objecting person, or those objections are forever barred."

Take, for example, a situation where Grandpa dies and someone petitions the probate court to be appointed Personal Representative of his estate. If that person serves an heir with a Notice of Administration, the heir must file a petition challenging the appointment as Personal Representative. If the heir does not timely challenge the appointment after being served with the Notice of Administration, then the heir loses the right to challenge the appointment. However, if no Notice of Administration is served, then the heir can challenge the appointment even after the person has been appointed as Personal Representative.

Anyone served with a Notice of Administration should seek advice from an attorney experienced in probate matters.

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