Also referred to as “personal representative,” the executor is responsible for administering the estate subject to probate and properly distributing the assets to their rightful heirs. How can you choose the best possible person to be an executor of a will in Florida? Read on to find out.
Who is Best to be an Executor of a Will? – In Detail
Meeting the Statutory Requirements
Chapter 733 of the Florida Statutes provides a detailed description of who can or cannot serve as an executor of a will within state jurisdiction.
Florida Statutes §733.302 describes that “subject to the limitations in this part, any person who is sui juris and is a resident of Florida at the time of the death of the person whose estate is to be administered is qualified to act as personal representative in Florida.”
Florida Statutes §733.303 (1) adds that ” a person is not qualified to act as a personal representative if the person:
- Has been convicted of a felony
- Has been convicted in any state or foreign jurisdiction of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly person or a disabled adult, as those terms are defined in Fla. Stat. §825.101
- Is mentally or physically unable to perform the duties
- Is under the age of 18 years”
If the person designated in the deceased’s will is not qualified to serve as a personal representative, the court will designate a new executor according to a statutory order of preference (Fla. Stat. §733.301).
Florida Statutes §733.304 specifies that “a person who is not domiciled in the state cannot qualify as personal representative unless the person is:
- A legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent
- Related by lineal consanguinity to the decedent
- A spouse or a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the decedent, or someone related by lineal consanguinity to any such person, or
- The spouse of a person otherwise qualified under this section”
Organizational Skills and Reliability
No matter how well-intentioned a close relative or friend is, you cannot appoint him or her as an executor of your will if you know the person lacks the foundational skills to succeed – organization and reliability.
An executor must act wisely and responsibly, hiring the necessary assistance and addressing issues as quickly as they arise. Individuals who do not have any relatives or friends reliable enough to serve as an executor can name an attorney or professional company to fulfill the job.
Good Financial Standing
If a person is often defaulting creditors, has no credit history, or has declared bankruptcy multiple times, this individual is not a good choice for an executor. Florida courts may require an executor’s bond, which is a form of insurance to protect beneficiaries if the executor fails.
Bonding companies are not willing to extend a bond for an executor with a bad financial history, leading the court to designate another person to serve as the personal representative.
It is fundamental to name at least one younger successor to replace the original executor in unexpected situations (e.g., death, incapacitation, etc.). Considering a will never expire, an estate can be probated using the same will more than 30 years after it was written.
Naming a capable younger person to serve as your successor guarantees your estate will be probated by someone you trust.