What does an executor of the estate do?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2021 | Estate Administration

In a last will and testament, the document typically assigns someone to serve as the executor of the estate. The named executor doesn’t need to be intimately familiar with Florida law to perform the duties since an attorney could provide insight and counsel. However, the executor must fulfill all obligations required, a process that starts with knowing the duties.

The duties of an executor

When the probate court opens up the estate, an executor becomes the sworn administrator who represents the testator. Often, the executor knows he or she is the person chosen for the job. The executor’s first steps usually involve notifying an attorney and procuring the original will.

In Florida, the court provides the executor with Letters of Administration that acknowledges the executor as the estate’s personal representative. The executor may then procure death certificates to close out financial accounts, deal with utility companies, work with insurance providers, and more.

An estate might have debts owed to various creditors. Paying off debts owed becomes necessary before distributing assets to beneficiaries. Also, the executor might need to file personal tax returns for the decedent and, if necessary, estate taxes. Hiring an accountant may be helpful to the process.

After settling debts, the executor takes over the responsibilities of distributing assets to beneficiaries. The executor must do so promptly and follow the directives specified in the will.

Issues with the chosen executor

Hopefully, the estate planning process involves choosing the right person for the job. A testator could discuss options for an executor with his or her attorney. Ultimately, the person chosen should be knowledgeable and responsible for the job. In some cases, incompetent or dishonest executors could face civil or even criminal charges.

Anyone who doesn’t feel capable of serving as the executor could decline or resign from the job. The court could take action on the request.

Estate administration comes with many responsibilities. An honest and diligent executor might make things work better for all involved. Anyone with concerns about how to name an executor could speak to an attorney. The attorney may also assist with writing a legally sound will.