When a person dies in Florida, either a designated executor or a person appointed by the court will serve as the decedent’s estate administrator. During the preparation of their wills, it is important for testators to be careful when choosing an executor for their estate in order to make certain the person is competent, able and trustworthy enough to carry out the tasks involved.
After an executor has been designated or one has been appointed by the court, the court will issue letters testamentary, which allow the person to administer the estate. The person will then be responsible for contacting all of the decedent’s creditors to notify them of the death. He or she will also be responsible for paying the valid claims of creditors, associated legal and accounting fees and taxes that are owed.
After all debts and fees have been paid out of the estate, the administrator will then be responsible for distributing the estate assets to the designated beneficiaries named by the decedent if a valid will existed. If the decedent died without a will, the administrator will pass the estate’s assets to the person’s heirs according to the state laws of intestacy. In the event there are no heirs, the estate may escheat back to the government.
It is important that people understand the estate administration process when they are preparing their estate planning documents. As the role will require a person who is trustworthy and organized, they should be careful when naming an executor. People often find it helpful to discuss potential executors with their estate planning attorneys. They should also discuss the decision with their intended executor to ensure the person will be willing and able to perform the attendant duties and tasks demanded by the role.