Although his time was nearing at the age of 86, it is still hard to believe that Andy Griffith died today in his hometown in North Carolina. He was a legendary icon who knew how to capture our hearts with his homespun humor and small town sensibility. Coping with a loss is very difficult but there is also a time when to get practical and realistic. This means not only taking a look at “who” the decedent leaves behind, but also “what” he leaves behind. The one to sort this issue out will definitely not be just another “Face in the Crowd.”

It will be the Personal Representative.

Everyone should have an estate plan in place and it is the Personal Representative who will be solely responsible for decisions regarding your estate after you die. In Florida, there are certain qualifications that must be met before one is eligible. The benefit of having a will drafted is that you can appoint who you would like to administer your estate.

These are big shoes to fill and due to the complexity involved, Florida Probate Rule 5.030 requires representation by an attorney licensed to practice in the state of Florida.

As a hypothetical, suppose Andy was a resident in Florida and he had a will appointing his wife Cindi, as his Personal Representative. There are many duties and responsibilities she will have to fulfill.

She will be required to collect all debts owed to Andy including but not limited to any salary, wages, pension, loans, and dividends. She must pay debts to his creditors. Finally, she will be responsible for distributing the actor’s estate to beneficiaries according to the terms of his will and the Florida Probate Code.

There are specific pleadings that need to be filed with the probate court. All tangible, personal property will need to be marshaled, inventoried, and properly preserved. She might need to obtain appraisals and consider insurance binders on uninsured property such as expensive vehicles and boats. With respect to any businesses Andy may have owned, she may need to continue operation or liquidate in order to satisfy obligations of the estate. She may need to arrange for ancillary administration if Andy owned any real property outside of Florida. She will have a duty to invest his assets as a prudent investor. A notice to creditors must be filed. Income tax and estate tax returns cannot be neglected.

Luckily, having an attorney present to guide a Personal Representative through this process will make this task less daunting and more manageable. Your South Florida estate planning attorney will simplify the process by handling important legal and administrative matters so you don’t have to.

Like the sheriff would say, “Gee, I appreciate it and good night.” May Andy have an eternal good night’s rest.

If you have family, friends or even a charitable intent, the absence of an estate plan is inexcusable. For more information on successful Florida estate planning and probate techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at to schedule your free consultation.

It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?