Responsibilities of the Executor of a Will in Florida

By Beverly Bird

Virtually anyone older than 18 can serve as the executor of a will and estate in Florida, according to the Bryant Law Firm in Miami. The law bars only minors or anyone with a felony conviction. Under Probate Rule of Court 5.030, however, you might be required to hire an attorney to represent you through the process, unless the decedent has not included any beneficiaries in the will.

Location of Assets

An executor’s first responsibility involves identifying all the assets of the deceased’s estate. According to Russell A. Winer, an attorney in St. Petersburg, assets include automobiles, stocks, bonds, bank and investment accounts, real estate, and any valuable collections such as artwork or stamps. The Bryant Law Firm advises that the most significant of these items might need appraisals. Within three months of the estate entering probate, you must file an inventory with the court detailing every asset you have identified.

Filing Claims

Once you have accounted for all tangible assets, you must file any necessary claims to secure money that might be due to the decedent. You will need to notify the Social Security Administration of her death, as well as the Veterans Administration, if applicable; Medicare; and annuity, pension or retirement fund institutions. If any individuals owed the decedent at the time of her death, it is your responsibility to secure those payments as well. The Bryant Law Firm suggests notifying the deceased’s employer, if she had one, to make sure the estate gets any benefits she would be due, as well as any outstanding salary or wages.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Notification and Payment of Creditors

You must next issue a Notice to Creditors to everyone the decedent owed money to. In some cases, you might also have to publish the notice in a newspaper. Creditors have three months to make their claim against the estate. Once they do, you must review the claims to determine if they are valid and either pay the debt or file an objection to the debt with the court, according to Winer. You must also file and prepare tax returns for the deceased, as well as for the estate if the estate earns $600 or more during the probate process.

Distribution of Assets

Winer says that in general, beneficiaries do not receive their inheritances until after all creditors, estate expenses and taxes are paid. If assets are not sufficient to cover all the debts, expenses and taxes, spouses and children of the decedent may still be eligible for up to $18,000 in an allowance for sustenance. You will have to apply for this on their behalf. Florida Statute 732.402 also protects up to $20,000 of the decedent’s personal property, such as furniture, from liquidation to pay the estate’s creditors and you would have to ask the court for this dispensation, as well.

Final Accounting

Once all expenses are paid, taxes are filed, and all the beneficiaries receive their bequests and allowances, you must file a Final Accounting with the court, as well as a Petition for Discharge, to be officially relieved of your duties. The Bryant Law Firm indicates that you might also have to supply the court with proof of all the payments to creditors and evidence of the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Who Gets Paid First Out of a Deceased's Estate?

References

Related articles

Financial Obligations of Heirs

The responsibility of paying a debtor's bills after death falls on the estate rather than on heirs receiving an inheritance. After a death, the executor of an estate is responsible for notifying creditors and paying existing debts using funds available to the estate, either with cash or liquidated assets. Although heirs will not be paid an inheritance until after debts are fulfilled, they usually do not have any financial obligation to creditors.

Legal Duties of the Named Executor of the Will

Executing a will might take a few months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the estate. Executors are legally liable for the safekeeping of the testator’s property, and for making sure all estate debts and taxes are paid. Most states require that an executor post bond when she assumes office. This is an insurance policy that will pay any financial claims against her if she deliberately or inadvertently does something wrong that financially hurts the estate.

What Is the Legal Procedure After the Death of a Person Who Doesn't Leave a Will?

Less than half of Americans -- only 35 percent – had wills as of 2010, according to Forbes.com. Unsurprisingly, states must implement laws to address the estates of those who do not. These people are said to have died “intestate,” but their property must usually still pass through probate to transfer title to heirs. Someone must also pay the decedent’s debts, and probate takes care of this also. Probate without a will is very similar to probate with one, but it usually involves a little more court supervision.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Probate a Will in the State of North Carolina

Most testators designate an executor in their wills in order to ensure that the probate process runs smoothly. When you ...

Role of Will Executor

The executor of a will, also known as the personal representative, is the person who will carry out the instructions in ...

How Do I Probate a Will in Alabama?

Alabama only probates certain property located within the state. Anything owned by the testator, or the person who made ...

What Are the Steps to Probate a Will?

In most cases, unless an estate is very small, the probate process is court-supervised. The deceased’s debts have to be ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED