What must executor of estate do when someone passes away?


The executor or personal representative is to gather the decedent's assets, preserve and protect the assets, pay the decedent's creditors and taxes, provide an inventory and final accounting to the beneficiaries and the close the probate estate.  Full administrations in Florida require the executor or personal representative be represented by an attorney.


Frank: Good morning, I had a question concerning wills and probate. When a person passes away, and they have a will and direct representative, does the direct representative then immediately have to follow some kind of a motion in the court? What’s the procedure there?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, Frank, what you're talking about is a typical will name somebody to be the executor or personal representative of somebody’s estate. The will nominates them to be the executor, but they are not the executor until the court actually appoints them to do so. To put things in order, Frank, first step would be this. When somebody passes away, we need to make a determination whether or not probate is required. If probate is required, then the person who’s the executor or personal representative would begin that process. There are different types of probate, and we make a determination which type of probate would be appropriate. Now, Frank, does that answer some of your question?

Frank: Well, I’m still not clear on whether the person-- well, basically, let’s say, myself and my son. I ask the-- direct representative or the representative, would he have to go to court with the will or does he just go ahead and act in accordance with the will, and do all the other actions, besides going to court? Or does he have to go to court?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, Frank, we’re still not clear. You’re talking about what happens if you passed away and what does your son do. Okay?

Frank: Yes.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right. Frank, let’s start with this, there are many ways to avoid probate. There are in fact some easy ways to avoid probate. Let’s assume that you’ve used these easy tools to avoid probate. You pass away, there’s no need for your son to go to court. Frank, on the other side of the coin let’s say that you’ve not used these easy tools to avoid probate that I can help people with and you pass away, probate is required.

There are some kinds of probate where your son can go to court by himself without an attorney and do the probate. There are some kinds of probate where the law will require that you son hire a lawyer to do that kind of probate.

Frank, I can’t give you a ‘one answer fits all situations’, we would have to know more about your situation, Frank. Now, I appreciate you wanted to get things in order, make things simple probably for your son when you pass away. But for that you and I would need to have a sit-down counsel.

Frank: Okay. Thank you.