Being appointed Personal Representative of an estate is a matter of great importance and responsibility. While many may believe that the ultimate responsibility of a personal representative is to make sure any beneficiaries to an estate get their inheritance, that is not actually how Florida law sees it. How a personal representative deals with beneficiaries and paying out the proceeds of the estate in general is an important matter that could even result in personal liability to the personal representative if done incorrectly. Because of this, one of the wisest moves a personal representative can make is to hire a skilled and experienced Miami estate attorney to help them handle the estate in order to make sure that everything is done correctly.
A personal representative is there to make sure that the estate is distributed according to Florida law. This does not necessarily mean that the estate is to be distributed to the beneficiaries. Creditors of the estate are always first in line when it comes to estate distribution, and even then, there is an order of which creditors are to be paid before others.
While a beneficiary may demand their share under a will or intestacy laws as soon as their relative dies, that does not mean that their demand must be immediately met. The beneficiary should only be paid their share after all of the creditors are paid.
A personal representative who pays the beneficiary right away does so at their own peril. If it ends up that there are not enough remaining assets to pay the creditors, they would have to get the gift back from the beneficiary. If it ends up that it is impossible to get that gift back, something that is very possible, the personal representative may end up being personally responsible for the discrepancy when it comes to paying off the creditors. For this reason, not only is it allowed to refuse to pay a beneficiary in some situations, but it also can be advisable.
However, this may not be the case in an instance where the creditors are all paid and there remains enough money in the estate to pay out any gifts to the beneficiaries. In such a case, the personal representative cannot refuse to pay the beneficiary of an estate. Refusing to pay out a bequest will result in the beneficiaries applying to the court to have their bequests paid. If goes without saying that the personal representative can never take money for themselves from the shares of the estate’s other beneficiaries.
Paying both creditors and beneficiaries is actually quite complicated and there is an entire area of Florida law dedicated towards just that. Because of that, it is advisable that Personal Representatives have a Miami estate attorney on their side so that they can be sure all payouts are made properly and fairly. It is the best way to protect both the estate and their personal interests. If you are looking for a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich, PLLC at (786) 522-1411.