As experts in estate planning, LCO Law LLC understands that many people have questions about executor responsibilities. In this FAQ, we will answer some of the most common questions we receive.
Q: What is an executor?
A: An executor is the person or entity responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in a person’s will after they have passed away. The executor’s primary responsibility is to manage the estate, pay off any debts, and distribute assets to beneficiaries.
Q: Who can be an executor?
A: Typically, an executor is someone named in the will by the person who created it. However, if no executor is named, or the named executor is unable or unwilling to serve, a court may appoint someone to act as the executor. All executors must be approved and appointed by the probate court before they can take any action with respect to a deceased person’s assets, creditors, or heirs. Florida law has specific requirements on who may act as an executor.
Q: What are an executor’s responsibilities?
A: An executor’s responsibilities include:
- Filing the will with the appropriate court and obtaining Letters of Administration. This requires opening Formal Probate Administration, which is a lawsuit, and proving to the court that the proposed Executor is qualified under Florida law. letters testamentary
After they are appointed by court order an executor would have the following responsibilities:
- Locating and managing the assets of the estate
- Locating the creditors of the person who passed away
- Accounting for all of the assets of the person who passed away
- Creating an inventory of those assets and proposed distribution schedules based on the Will or intestacy laws
- Paying off any debts, expenses, or taxes owed by the estate
- Distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or the heirs under intestacy laws
- Providing an updated accounting of the estate to beneficiaries and the court
- Defending or representing the estate in other court actions, like wrongful death, creditor claims like foreclosure, title litigation, evictions, and more
Q: How long does an executor serve?
A: The length of time an executor serves can vary depending on the complexity of the estate and any legal disputes that arise. In general, the executor’s responsibilities last until all debts are paid, and all assets are distributed to beneficiaries. This is an average of two years for uncontested probate litigation.
Q: Can an executor be held liable for mistakes?
A: Yes, an executor can be held liable for mistakes made in carrying out their responsibilities. If an executor breaches their fiduciary duty or acts negligently, they can be held personally responsible for any financial losses suffered by the estate or beneficiaries.
Q: Can an executor be removed?
A: Yes, an executor can be removed if they are not fulfilling their duties or acting in the best interest of the estate. A beneficiary or interested party can petition the court to have the executor removed and replaced with someone else.