A “curator” is defined in the Florida Probate Code in section 731.201(8) as follows:
“Curator” means a person appointed by the court to take charge of the estate of a decedent until letters are issued.
“Letters” is defined in section 731.201(24) of the Florida Probate Code:
“Letters” means authority granted by the court to the personal representative to act on behalf of the estate of the decedent and refers to what has been known as letters testamentary and letters of administration. All letters shall be designated “letters of administration.”
Basically, a curator is a neutral person who temporarily administers a Florida probate estate until a personal representative is appointed. A curator and personal representative cannot serve at the same time.
When Is A Curator Appointed?
The most common situation where a curator is appointed in a Florida probate is when a neutral fiduciary is needed to administer the estate because there is a delay in the appointment of a personal representative.
In this situation, a curator can step in and begin administering the probate estate so that the delay in appointing a personal representative does not harm the estate’s beneficiaries or creditors, or result in a wasting of the estate’s assets.
Section 733.501(1) of the Florida Probate Code states:
When it is necessary, the court may appoint a curator after formal notice to the person apparently entitled to letters of administration. The curator may be authorized to perform any duty or function of a personal representative. If there is great danger that any of the decedent’s property is likely to be wasted, destroyed, or removed beyond the jurisdiction of the court and if the appointment of a curator would be delayed by giving notice, the court may appoint a curator without giving notice.
A curator is also sometimes appointed after the resignation or removal of a personal representative, until a successor personal representative is appointed
Is A Florida Curator Paid For Their Services?
Yes, section 733.501(3), Fla. Stat. provides that curators are allowed reasonable compensation for their services.
Does The Fiduciary Lawyer-Client Privilege Apply to A Curator?
Yes, pursuant to section 90.5021, Florida Statutes, a communication between a lawyer and a client acting as a curator is privileged and protected from disclosure under the attorney-client privilege.
What Is The Process For Appointment Of A Curator in Florida Probate?
In order to have a curator appointed, you must file a petition for appointment of curator. Florida Probate Rule 5.122 governs the process for appointment of curators.
The petition for appointment of a curator must be verified and contain:
- the petitioner’s name, address, and interest, if any, in the estate;
- the decedent’s name, address, date and place of death, and state and county of domicile;
- the names and addresses of the persons apparently entitled to letters of administration and any known beneficiaries;
- the nature and approximate value of the assets;
- a statement showing venue;
- a statement as to why a curator should be appointed; and
- the name and address of any proposed curator.
The court may also appoint a curator sua sponte.
Regarding the required notice for a petition for appointment of curator, the rule states:
Formal notice shall be given to the person apparently entitled to letters, if any. If it is likely that the decedent’s property will be wasted, destroyed, or removed beyond the jurisdiction of the court and if the appointment of a curator would be delayed by giving notice, the court may appoint a curator without notice.
What Are The Powers And Duties Of A Florida Curator?
A Florida curator is subject to the provisions of the Florida Probate Rules and other applicable law concerning personal representatives. A curator’s powers are not automatically as broad as a personal representative, but by order, the court may authorize the curator to perform any duty or function of a personal representative, including publication and service of notice to creditors, or if a will has been admitted, service of notice of administration. The powers of a curator are generally set forth in the order appointing curator.
A curator is required to file an inventory within 30 days of issuance of letters of curatorship. When the personal representative is appointed, the curator is also required to account for and deliver all estate assets in the curator’s possession to the personal representative within 30 days after issuance of letters of administration.
These requirements are found in Florida Probate Rule 5.122.
The appointment of a Florida curator is sometimes necessary for the smooth administration of the probate estate, whether before letters are issued to a personal representative, or to bridge the gap after resignation or removal of a personal representative and prior to appointment of a successor personal representative. Whatever the reason for appointment, a curator can be helpful to keep the administration of the Florida probate estate on track.