My father died recently and I do not believe he had a will. I live in Hawaii, he lived in Florida. How do I find/contact the executor/administrator of his estate?
There may not be a personal representative of his estate appointed because it is possible no one has initiated the probate of his estate by filing a petition for administration of it. Florida does not automatically appoint a personal representative of an estate, although any "interested party" as defined in the Florida Probate Code, may initiate the proceedings by filing a petition for administration of the estate, alleging whether or not there is a will, naming who the family members of the decedent are, such as spouse and children, etc., and alleging whether or not a will exists.You can serve as personal representative, even if living in Hawaii, because the statute permits a child who is outside of Florida the right to serve in that capacity. However, it is possible your father either had no assets left in his own name (as opposed to being left in joint names with others, who may have taken those assets by survivorship without probate being required to do so), at the time of his death, or that he had transferred all his assets into a trust prior to his death, which would eliminate the need to probate an estate which had no assets subject to the probate process. In that event, a successor trustee for the trust would have the control of trust assets and would distribute them in accordance with the terms of the trust. If you have knowledge that your father did have assets in his own name at time of death, you should retain a Florida attorney to assist you in opening an estate. You can usually tell if he at least owned a home in his own name by checking the property appraiser's website in the county of his residence and see if his last known address is listed as a property owned by him in his own name, or whether he owned it with a spouse jointly, or with someone else jointly, or whether he had transferred it into a trust. If he rented a home, you do not have that advantage. Any one of his children, his spouse, or even a creditor, can open a probate by filing for a petition for administration, asking to have a personal representative appointed. If you are unable to serve because you are not over age 18 or you have been convicted of a felony, you can ask your attorney to serve as personal representative or someone else who can qualify for the job. I hope this answer helps.If an estate has been opened, it would have been opened in the county where he last lived, and you can check with the probate clerk in that circuit court for that county to see if an estate is already open for your father's name, and if so, you can request copies of the documents by remitting a fee to the clerk to cover the cost of those documents.
Estate Planning Attorney
I am sorry to hear of your loss.
I will need to ask you some additional information. Was your father married at the time of his death? Do you have any siblings that are also related to yoru father. If there are assets titled in his individual name they will need to go through probate.
Depending on the value of these assets it may require a summary administration or a full administration. If your father owned real estate, a good starting point is to google the name of the county where he lived. Then do a record search to see if he owned real property. If it was in his individual name, then a probate will be necessary. If it has anyone else's name then it is either owned as JTWROS or by the Entirety or Tennants in Common.
You will definitely need to hire an attorney to look into if there was a will and if it has been probated.