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Written by Thomas Upchurch
When drafting a will, many people default to naming a spouse, closest sibling, or oldest child as executor of his or her estate. Choosing an executor, however, is just like hiring for any other important job: Making the right choice requires an understanding of exactly what you’ll be entrusting to that person and what strengths and skills are relevant.
There are two types of qualifications to consider when choosing a Florida executor: the legal and technical requirements, and the practical qualifications that will allow your executor to successfully fulfill the role.
The statutory requirements for a Florida executor are straightforward. To qualify to serve as an executor, a person must:
Though anyone who fulfills these three criteria is technically qualified to serve as executor, that doesn’t mean just anyone is a good choice. Selecting the right executor requires careful consideration of the duties that person will be asked to perform.
The executor of an estate is responsible for accounting for, preserving, and properly distributing the property of the estate. Some of the core responsibilities include:
In most cases, a Florida executor must work with an estate lawyer to administer and close out the estate. Thus, the executor won’t have to manage all of these responsibilities alone. The estate attorney will provide guidance in the technical and procedural aspects of the process, advise the executor as to which tax filings are required, and otherwise help ensure that all duties are properly fulfilled. For example, the attorney can:
As the above list makes clear, serving as executor is not a nominal or fleeting task. In addition to the procedural requirements, it is important to be aware that the gathering and inventorying of assets can be time consuming. This process will include not only transferring ownership of assets such as vehicles and bank accounts, but also inventorying the deceased’s personal property, including digital assets and accounts.
Ideally, the person selected will:
You may also want to consider the possible impact on family relationships in appointing an executor.
When you work with an experienced estate lawyer to draft your will, the attorney can assist you in considering all of the factors necessary to select an executor who is both technically qualified and well-equipped to do the job. The more information you have before making that decision and the more thoroughly you consider your options, the more likely it is that your executor will be approved by the court and will be able to efficiently discharge his or her duties.
Contact us to learn more about our estate planning and probate services.