Senopoulos v. Senopoulos

Senopoulos v. Senopoulos, 253 So.3d 1228 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018)

A probate court has the inherent authority to evaluate a person's fitness to serve as personal representative. However, in order to appoint a personal representative based on something other than that personal representative's entitlement under the statute, the trial court has to actually make a finding about the person's fitness to serve.  

Here, the decedent and his spouse were married just four days before the decedent died. The decedent's father sought to be appointed as personal representative of the estate, alleging foul-play by the surviving spouse in the death of his son. The wife objected and asserted her right to serve as the surviving spouse. The court ultimately entered an order appointing the father, stating that the father was "entitled to" appointment as the "nearest heir of the Decedent willing to serve as personal representative."

The Court reversed the order appointing the father because the trial court based its order on the father's entitlement to serve rather than on a finding that the wife was not fit to serve, where the statutory order of preference actually favored the wife.

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