Many of the decisions you make when you create an estate plan in Florida, such as when you choose an executor, will require you to balance a number of factors. Always speak to your estate planning attorney for advice about choosing important people to play key roles in your estate plan. However, before you do that, you can go a long way in making sure you choose an executor that is right for you by considering some important steps.
Step 1. Understand what an executor does.
An estate executor, also commonly referred to as a personal representative, is responsible for managing the property you leave behind after you die. Your executor will, for example, have to go before a Florida probate court judge and asked the court to grant him or her the legal authority to begin managing your property.
Once a court grants the legal authority, the executor then receives the ability to take certain steps, such as taking an inventory of all your property, reviewing any claims made by creditors, and using estate property to begin paying unpaid debts and expenses.
Step 2. Consider practical limitations.
Given that an executor will have to perform some specific duties in relation to property located within the state of Florida, it’s usually best to choose someone who is located in your same general vicinity. While choosing an executor who lives far away can be an option, it’s typically best to choose someone who will be able to interact with area courts, creditors, and others who are located in the state of Florida.
Further, because your executor will not need to begin managing your estate until after you have died, it’s usually a good choice to someone who is significantly younger than you. Choosing an executor of the same age can be very risky because that person might not be able to serve when the time comes. Someone who was a decade or two younger than you, or perhaps an organizational executor such as a bank, is typically a better choice than someone who is of the same age.
Beyond that, you should always include alternate choices when you choose an executor. Should the first choice be unable to serve, the alternates will be able to take over.
Step 3. Choose an executor by naming a person in your last will and testament.
A common mistake of people who create do-it-yourself estate planning documents is that they choose an executor in the wrong way. For example, some people mistakenly believe that choosing an agent through a durable power of attorney is enough to allow you to choose an executor. This is incorrect. The only way to nominate your executor is through your last will and testament.