If a deceased’s estate is subject to formal probate administration in Florida, the court must appoint a personal administration (or executor) to administer and distribute the decedent’s estate following the instructions in the will.
Are executors entitled to compensation fees in Florida probate? Are they allowed to charge for their time? Read on to find out.
Understanding the Executor’s Role – The Fundamentals
An executor is an individual who receives court authority to handle, execute and distribute a deceased person’s estate subject to probate in Florida.
Florida Statutes §733.301 (1)(a) provides that “in granting letters of administration, the following order of preference shall be observed in testate estates:
- 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 under the will. If more than one devisee applies, the court may select the one best qualified”
Florida Statutes §733.602 (1) specifies that “a personal representative is under a duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s will and this code as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate.”
If a person dies with a valid will in Florida, the person named to serve as an executor in the decedent’s will has the preference under state law. After receiving authority to fulfill the role in court, the executor must:
- Identify and gather all the decedent’s assets subject to probate
- Prepare an inventory and file the document in court
- Take possession and protect the estate subject to probate
- Notify all interested parties
- Identify and notify the decedent’s creditors
- Respond or object to creditor’s claims based on their validity
- File tax returns on behalf of the estate
- Manage and execute the decedent’s assets (e.g., invest, sell, mortgage, lease, etc.)
- Execute assets to pay outstanding claims, unpaid taxes, or administration costs
- Distribute the remaining assets in the estate to the heirs named in the will
- File to close probate in court
The executor must act only in the best interest of the decedent’s estate and its beneficiaries. As it is plain to see, serving as an executor in Florida probate is a time-consuming task.
Can Executor Charge for their Time in Florida? – As Provided by Law
An executor is entitled to fair compensation for the time and effort invested in Florida probate. Florida Statutes §733.617 (1) provides that “a personal representative shall be entitled to a commission payable from the estate assets without court order as compensation for ordinary services.”
The same statute adds that “the commission shall be based on the compensable value of the estate, which is the inventory value of the probate estate assets and the income earned by the estate during administration.”
Furthermore, Florida Statutes §733.617 (2) specifies that “a commission computed on the compensable value of the estate is presumed to be reasonable compensation for a personal representative in formal administration as follows:
- At the rate of 3 percent for the first $1 million
- At the rate of 2.5 percent for all above $1 million and not exceeding $5 million
- At the rate of 2 percent for all above $5 million and not exceeding $10 million
- At the rate of 1.5 percent for all above $10 million”