No one wants to think about death, but it's essential to have a plan in place in case the unexpected happens. The state will decide how to distribute your assets if you die without a will. This can be lengthy and complicated. That said, having an experienced probate attorney on your side is essential.
Will There Be an Executor Without a Will?
In the state of Florida, if someone dies without a will, their estate will pass by "intestate succession." This means the state will decide how to distribute the person's assets. The individual's spouse will typically be appointed as the personal representative, followed by any children of the deceased. The court will appoint a close friend or relative if there are no surviving family members. Sometimes, the court may appoint a professional executor, such as a lawyer or CPA.
The Responsibilities of an Executor
The executor is responsible for managing the estate, including:
● Notifying the deceased person's creditors of the death
● Filing any required tax returns
● Inventorying the deceased person's assets and liabilities
● Paying off the deceased person's debts
● Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.
You must clearly understand your responsibilities if you have been named as an executor. If you're unsure what to do, it is highly recommended to seek the help of an experienced probate lawyer.
Restrictions on Who Can Serve an Executor
A court has the final say over who actually serves as executor, even if a will or state statute nominates someone or if they are entitled to priority for appointment. Certain individuals are prohibited from serving as executors, administrators, or personal representatives of estates or are subject to additional restrictions. Considerations include:
● Age: A personal representative cannot be younger than 18 years old.
● Criminal history: Florida forbids persons convicted of serious crimes from serving.
● Residence: Out-of-state executors are not allowed unless related to the decedent by lineal consanguinity.
Apart from these grounds for disqualification, probate court judges commonly have a lot of discretion when appointing an executor or administrator.
Why Do You Want to Be Executor of an Estate in Florida?
Becoming an executor of an estate is a responsibility that might seem daunting at first, but it can also be an opportunity to ensure that a loved one's final wishes are carried out with respect and dignity. There are several reasons why an individual might wish to undertake this role. For instance, close family members often take on the role to ensure that their loved one's assets are distributed in a manner fitting with their knowledge of the deceased's personal values and relationships.
It can provide a sense of closure and a way to honor their memory. Furthermore, being an executor can bring a level of control and certainty during a time of grief and uncertainty. However, the undertaking should not be taken lightly, as it requires time, effort, and a commitment to act in the best interests of the estate. Therefore, seeking legal assistance from a skilled probate attorney is often a wise decision to aid in navigating the probate process without unnecessary stress or complications.
How to File to Be Executor of an Estate Without a Will
An intestate estate, or one without a will, requires a petition filed with the probate court in the county where the deceased resided if you wish to serve as administrator. In Florida, the probate process starts with filing a petition and other required documents. The court will then decide whether to appoint you as administrator.
Step by Step: How to Become the Executor of an Estate
If you wish to become an executor of an estate that has no will, the process typically involves the following steps:
- Petition for Appointment: In most states, you will need to file a petition with the probate court to become the estate's executor. This petition usually includes information about the deceased person, such as their date of death and the estimated value of their estate.
- Notice of Hearing: Once you've filed the petition, the court will set a date for a hearing. You'll need to notify all interested parties (such as potential beneficiaries or creditors) about this hearing. Each state has its guidelines on how and when you must notify these parties.
- Attend the Hearing: During the hearing, the judge will consider your petition and any objections. If the judge approves your appointment, you'll receive "letters of administration," which officially authorize you to act as the executor.
- Take the Oath: Many jurisdictions require the appointed executor to take an oath of office. This oath is a formal statement wherein the executor promises to carry out their duties faithfully.
- Administer the Estate: Once appointed, you'll need to locate the estate's assets, pay any debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets according to the state's intestacy laws.
Remember, this is a general guide and the exact steps may vary depending on your state's law. It's recommended to seek advice from a competent probate attorney in your state to ensure you're following all the necessary legal procedures.
Why You Should Hire a Probate Lawyer to Help
Understanding your responsibilities as an executor or administrator is crucial if you have been appointed. A probate lawyer will assist you through the process, from filing the necessary paperwork to distributing the estate's assets. Additionally, a lawyer can also help with contested issues, such as will contests or disputes among beneficiaries.
The skilled attorneys at Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A. can assist you through the probate process and ensure that your loved ones are taken care of. We have experience handling probate cases and can assist you through every step of the process.
Contact us through our online contact form or by calling (800) 776-3103 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to speaking with you soon.