What is an Executor of Estate? (Personal Representative)Get a Free Consultation
By naming an executor of estate in your will, you can choose who will make legal decisions on your behalf after you pass away. In Florida law, executors are also called “personal representatives” and “estate administrators”.
The executor of estate is responsible for managing the estate in the best interests of the beneficiaries and creditors.
The primary job of an executor is to identify and inventory assets, pay debts and taxes owed by the estate, and distribute remaining assets according to the will or Florida law if there is no will.
Who Can Be an Executor?
In Florida, an executor of estate must be over 18, a Florida resident, and not have any felony convictions.
The court can disqualify someone from serving as executor if they are found unsuitable due to substance abuse, impropriety, physical or mental incapacity, or conflict of interest.
When someone passes away, their estate goes through the probate process.
If an executor of estate is named in the will, that person petitions the court to be appointed as the legal representative of the estate.
However, if the deceased didn’t name an executor or the person named in the will does not qualify or is unwilling/unable to serve, the probate court will appoint an administrator. Most commonly, the spouse or children are appointed in these cases.
How Much Is an Executor Paid?
Executors are entitled to a reasonable fee in Florida, which is based on a percentage of the value of estate assets. The executor fee depends on the total worth of the estate:
- For estates worth $1 million or less, the executor fee is 3% of the estate assets.
- Between $1 million and $5 million, the fee is 2.5% of the assets.
- Between $5 million and $10 million, the fee is 2% of the estate assets
- Over $10 million, the fee is 1.5% of the assets.
Assets exempt from probate in Florida—like life insurance benefits, 401Ks, and trust assets—are not included in the calculation of the executor’s fee.
An executor can seek court approval to hire attorneys, accountants, appraisers, and other professionals to help distribute the estate.
If an executor believes they deserve more compensation for additional work, they can petition the court for a higher fee.
What if an Executor Abuses their Power?
The executor is accountable to the probate court and beneficiaries during the entire probate process.
Unethical executors may misuse funds or transfer assets without proper authorization. There have been cases of executors withdrawing estate funds to invest in stocks, pay their own bills, and line their pockets.
If an executor abuses their power or fails to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries and creditors, they can be held accountable in probate court.
If you’re a beneficiary of an estate and feel the executor has acted improperly, consult with an estate planning attorney or probate litigation lawyer to determine if you have a valid claim against the executor.
Florida Statutes. Chapters 731-735. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Index&Title_Request=XLII#TitleXLII
Florida Courts. Probate Court Process and Forms. https://help.flcourts.gov/Other-Resources/Probate
Florida Bar. Consumer Pamphlet: Probate in Florida. https://www.floridabar.org/public/consumer/pamphlet026/