Upon someone’s death in Florida, the deceased person’s will must be submitted to the court. The court will verify the document’s validity and whether the decedent’s estate is subject to probate.
When an estate subject to probate is formally administered, the court must issue Letters of Administration to designate a personal representative to execute the estate and distribute the decedent’s assets to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries.
In this article, you will find out whether an executor can be a beneficiary of a will in Florida.
Florida Executor Duties – Understanding the Concept
The personal representative (also referred to as the executor of an estate) is the person appointed by the court to administer a decedent’s estate and ensure an adequate distribution of his or her assets according to the statutory rules.
An executor has several duties under Florida law, such as:
- Opening the estate
- Providing notice of administration to the interested individuals (including creditors)
- Identifying, collecting, and valuing the decedent’s assets subject to probate
- Preparing an inventory of the property
- Paying any expenses incurred by the estate’s administration
- Paying or objecting to creditors’ claims
- Representing the estate in probate litigation (if necessary)
- Paying due taxes and filing tax returns
- Distributing the decedent’s remaining assets pursuant to the will’s instructions
- Closing the estate
However, serving as an executor of an estate in Florida is not exclusively about duties and responsibilities. Executors have several statutory rights, including the right to receive a reasonable amount of the decedent’s estate as compensation for his or her performance.
Can an Executor of a Will be a Beneficiary in Florida? – The Verdict
Under Florida law, an executor of a will can be a beneficiary at the same time. Generally, this is the most common scenario, considering the personal representative is usually appointed in the decedent’s will.
Individuals tend to choose trusted persons such as close relatives to execute their estate upon death. Similarly, many Florida residents choose loved ones to serve as a trustee in a trust or a health care surrogate in a healthcare advance directive.
It is not unusual to find cases in which spouses designate each other as their personal representatives. In such cases, the spouses also designate a child or another relative to serve as contingent (successor) executors in the event they both die at the same time, or one spouse is not available to fulfill the role.
Can an Executor of a Will be a Beneficiary in Florida? – Statutory Order of Preference
During probate, the court will rely on a statutory order of preference to determine who is entitled to serve as an executor. If the decedent died with a will, Florida Statutes §733.301 (1)(a) provides the following order of preference:
- The personal representative, or his or her successor, nominated by the will or pursuant to a power conferred in the will
- The person selected by a majority in interest of the persons entitled to the estate
- A devisee (beneficiary) under the will. If more than one devisee applies, the court may select the one best qualified
If the decedent died without a will (intestate), Florida Statutes §733.301 (1)(b) provides the following order of preference:
- The surviving spouse
- The person selected by a majority in interest of the heirs
- The heir nearest in degree. If more than one applies, the court may select the one best qualified