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.
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.
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.