Taking on the job of an estate executor in Florida can be rewarding since it helps the surviving family members of a deceased person receive their inheritance and achieve some closure concerning the death of a relative. But with the job of executor comes possible legal risks if you as an executor do not know what to watch out for. Under some circumstances, an executor can be the target of civil litigation.
The American Bar Association explains that executors can be subject to personal liability. An executor is mandated to properly manage the estate of a deceased person. This includes maintaining assets and protecting them from damage or destruction before they can be distributed to heirs. If mismanagement or errors in taking care of the estate occur, beneficiaries to the estate could sue the executor for losses.
There are a number of errors or problems that can expose an executor to liability. If an estate property has insurance coverage, the insurance policy must be maintained. Allowing it to lapse can result in loss to beneficiaries. Executors called upon to invest estate assets should be careful not to take risks that can cause a portfolio to lose value. Conversely, executors cannot be too risk-averse while investing estate assets.
Other possible areas of mismanagement can include the following:
- Failure to pay the estate taxes
- Not filing the tax returns before the due date
- An executor using estate assets for personal purchases
- Actions that favor one beneficiary over another
Competence and impartiality are important qualities for an executor to possess. These qualities can help keep an executor from making mistakes or willfully bad decisions that could invite litigation. Executor candidates that feel uncertain about how to navigate closing out an estate can seek legal counsel to help with understanding laws relevant to the estate process.
This article is written to provide general information on the topic of estate and probate administration and is not to be interpreted as legal advice.