What is the difference between a curator and a personal representative? It is important to understand each of these roles and how they affect a probate case.
In Florida, there are cases where probate is required for certain assets, but a personal representative has not yet been appointed. Typically, it is the personal representative that files the petition for administration. A personal representative is an individual or entity in charge of administering the deceased’s estate and distributing their assets according to the terms of their will. Most often, a person will name a close friend, family member, or professional, such as an attorney, to act as their personal representative. In the time before a personal representative is appointed, beneficiaries and creditors may need to look into other options for distributing the assets of an estate.
A curator may be appointed by the state’s probate courts to take charge of the estate until a letter of administration is issued. Curators are neutral and appointed temporarily. Curators are only appointed to estates that need a person in control to prevent any damage to beneficiaries and creditors.
In some cases, an attorney will request a curator to be appointed to an estate. If a personal representative for a case is challenged due to conduct issues or prior offenses regarding the estate’s assets, then a curator appointment is warranted. Additionally, a curator may be appointed if there is a disagreement over the qualifications of a personal representative for an estate.
To take on the responsibility of a personal representative, an individual must accept the role. Once they have officially accepted this role, the personal representative has a fiduciary responsibility to the estate and its beneficiaries. These responsibilities include:
If a personal representative is involved with any misconduct to the estate’s assets or breach of fiduciary responsibilities, a probate court can remove the personal representative. A court can also disqualify a personal representative if they do not meet the state’s requirements. This can include being underage or having been previously convicted of a felony.
A personal representative may not be removed solely on the grounds that a beneficiary does not agree with the personal representative’s decisions regarding the estate.
In some cases, personal representatives can receive compensation for their role. There is a significant amount of responsibilities associated with this role and some Wills even explicitly outline how the personal representative will be compensated.
It is important to understand that a curator may only be appointed before a personal representative if there is a pressing issue regarding preservation of assets to an estate. Additionally, accepting a role as a personal representative is a big responsibility and serious decision. If you have any questions about either role or how they can affect an estate it is important to contact an expert.