SELECTING EXECUTORS UNDER FLORIDA PROBATE LAW
Under Florida probate law, the executor is the person or entity who manages your property after you die, under the direction of the probate court. The executor responsible for paying the probate estate’s bills, collecting its debts, and distributing its property as directed by the probate court. If you leave a valid will, the probate court will normally appoint the party you named in your will; however, Florida probate law contains restrictions on who can serve as an executor.
Any executor you nominate in your will must:
- Be at least 18 years old,
- Have never been convicted of a felony;
- Have not been declared physically or mentally incompetent by a court; and.
- Be a either a resident of Florida or be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption.
You can name a bank, trust company or savings and loan, as long as it is qualified to act as a fiduciary in the state of Florida (not many people do this, however).You can also name more than one executor, although it is wise, for obvious reasons, to name an odd rather than an even number of executors.
The Probate Court’s Order of Preference
Assuming that you will is not declared invalid, the probate court must appoint your executor according to the following order of preference:
- The individual or entity who is either named in your will or selected by someone who was granted the authority to name your executor by the terms of your will (in other words, your will can name an agent in your will, and the terms of your will can empower that agent to select your executor after you die)..
- The successor to the executor who was either named in your will or selected by the agent you named in your will.
- The party selected by heirs representing a majority in interest of your estate (any group of beneficiaries who are collectively entitled to inherit more than 50 percent of the value of your estate);
- The best-qualified heir under your will as selected by the court; or
- Any qualified person or entity appointed by the probate court.
Order of Preference if Your Will is Declared Invalid
If your will is declared invalid, the probate court must select your estate executor in accordance with the following order of preference:
- Your surviving spouse;
- The party selected by heirs representing a majority in interest of your estate;
- Your closest relative among your heirs, or the best-qualified heir; or
- any qualified person appointed by the probate court.
Once you decide to name a particular person or entity as your executor, it is important that you notify them in advance. If you don’t, they may exercise their right to decline their nomination, leaving the court with the options listed above. It is also a good idea to name a successor executive in case your first choice becomes unable to serve for some reason.
Contact Lorenzo Law Today
Jose Lorenzo is an estate planning attorney who knows his way around the Florida court system. If you anticipate the need for probate litigation anywhere in Florida, contact us immediately. We maintain offices in Coral Gables and Ft. Lauderdale, and we handle cases throughout Florida. Call us at (305) 999-5411,complete our online intake form, email us at [email protected] or visit one of our offices.