In today’s blog post in our ongoing series about basic estate planning questions, we are going to turn our attention to executors and the role they play in managing your estate. A lot of people ask us about executors because they are either creating an estate plan and need to choose one, or have been asked to serve in the role. If you find yourself in either situation you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible so you can receive personalized legal advice that applies to your individual situation. Until then, here are some basic questions about executors, and their role in your Florida estate plan.
What is an executor?
Also commonly referred to as either a personal representative or estate administrator, an executor is someone who receives the legal authority to manage a decedent’s estate. An estate is simply the collection of property and legal affairs left behind and by a deceased person. The executor is a person or organization that has to determine what happens to that property now that the owner has died.
Who chooses executors?
While every capable adult has the ability to choose who they want to serve as their estate executor, most people never get around to doing ot. Regardless, a Florida court will have the final word on who serves as your executor, even though you can exert significant control over the course of decision.
When you make an estate plan you will choose who you want to serve as your executor by nominating one or more people in your last will and testament. As long as your will is legally valid and the person you choose as your executor is capable and willing to serve, a court will approve your nomination.
However, should you die without an estate plan, or choose someone who is not able or willing to be an executor, the court will have to choose the executor on its own.
What does an executor do?
Executors have the legal authority, and responsibility, to settle the estate. The estate settlement process, though it can be rather detailed and complicated, is based on a simple concept. Namely, settling the estate simply means determining what the deceased person left behind and making sure that property gets transferred to the rightful new owners.
There are several steps that are involved in the estate settlement process. For example, the executor will first have to perform an inventory in order to determine exactly what the decedent left behind. Next, the executor will have to allow potential creditors to file claims if they believe the decedent owed them money. After that, the executor will have to transfer the estate property to new owners. All of these steps must proceed in accordance with some very specific laws.