What Is an Executor and How Do I Choose One?
As you work to make plans for your estate using an estate plan or will, you’ll be making many decisions. While many are aware that you must decide how your assets will be divided, perhaps the most important decision you will make is choosing your estate’s executor, known as the personal representative in Florida and some other states. It may be tempting to name a close family member or friend, but this may not always be the best option.
Responsibilities of the Executor
The person you select to execute your estate will be faced with many responsibilities. Not only must the executor contact those you name in the will or estate plan, but they must also:
- Ensure that all proper paperwork is filed once the will is placed in probate;
- Pay any debts against the estate;
- Pay any taxes accrued in the estate dispersal process; and
- Assist in dealing with any challenges to the will.
Due to these responsibilities, an executor should be reliable, organized, and well aware of what responsibilities they are accepting by agreeing to serve as your executor.
Choosing Your Executor
In addition to considering the responsibilities, you’ll also need to keep in mind other requirements of executors. Although you are generally free to choose whomever you wish to serve as your executor, there are a few limitations. Your executor cannot be, at the time of your death:
- A convicted felon;
- Mentally or physically unable to serve as executor;
- Under the age of 18; or
- A resident of a state other than Florida if not related to you.
Because some of these factors can change, it is wise to name alternate executors in case your first choice is unable to serve for whatever reason.
As you consider your executor options, you may also wish to name an unbiased executor, rather than a friend or family member. This person might be an attorney, accountant, financial advisor, or some other unbiased party who has the skills necessary to serve as executor.
Paying an Executor
Under Florida law, executors of estates may be compensated. The law provides for executors to be paid based on the value of the estate, so even those with small estates will need to allow for this payment.
- 3 percent for the first $1 million;
- 5 percent for $1 million to $5 million;
- 2 percent for $5 million to $10 million; and
- 5 percent over $10 million.
You should account for this payment when crafting your estate plan, no matter how large or small your estate. Although your executor can waive their right to payment, it would be wise to assume that your executor will collect payment, since acting as an executor does require quite a lot of your executor. Even if the executor waives payment, they are still reimbursed by the estate for expenses, such as travel, they incur as a result of executing the estate.
Contact an Attorney
The process of making estate plans is complicated and can be difficult. Finding an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney can help you to ensure that your estate plan is thorough and will disperse your estate exactly as you wish. Tampa attorney David Toback has years of experience dedicated to estate planning. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.