What you need to do about an executor’s fiduciary duties

| Jan 22, 2021 | Probate & Estate Administration

The executor of an estate has many responsibilities, known as their fiduciary duties. An executor must always act in accordance with the deceased’s wishes, and for the benefit of the estate and its heirs.

It’s important to understand the role the executor plays in settling an estate, and the responsibilities they must meet.

What are the responsibilities that executors of estates have?

One of the first responsibilities that an executor has after a testator dies is to locate their will and file it with the probate court. It’s also their responsibility to inventory their assets, guard them for safekeeping and notify both the heirs and creditors of the testator’s passing. It’s then their responsibility to prepare the testator’s final tax return and settle up with creditors before distributing any of the estate’s remaining assets to the testator’s heirs. 

What comes after the executor’s initial steps to secure the estate?

There’s a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with serving as an executor. 

Anyone who assumes this role must set up a checking account to pay any debts an estate owes or distribute any pooled assets. The executor must also not leave any stone unturned in identifying creditors and paying them what’s due. They must also keep heirs abreast of where the settling of the estate stands. Executors must exhibit some degree of financial prowess in preserving the value of any assets that they’re safekeeping for heirs up until distribution. 

Executors must do all of this without serving their self-interests or expecting more than the nominal fee that Florida allows them to recover for their efforts. 

What happens if an executor fails to uphold their fiduciary duties?

Many testators spend significant time trying to identify the right person to serve as the executor of their estate to avoid any mismanagement — but mistakes still happen. Not everybody is cut out to be an executor. Some don’t want the role. Some can’t do the job. Some are more interested in personal gain.

An attorney can advise you of your ability to remove an executor from their role if they seem to be failing their fiduciary duties for any reason. Removing an executor of an estate is possible when they are no longer serving its interests.