Estate administration, in basic terms, is the process of maintenance and distribution of a person's assets after they die.
If the decedent wrote a will before his or her death in St. Petersburg, Florida, the process will be carried out according to the directives contained in the will, assuming they are valid and enforceable.
Usually, wills appoint an executor who is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estate, and seeing that its provisions are carried out, to the extent possible.
The person named as executor of an estate usually has some work ahead of them. To ensure that they actually follow through on their obligations, most people name as executor the person who will get the most money, or other benefit, if the will is given effect as written. Because an estate can't be distributed until the administration process is complete, the executor has an incentive to see it through.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a will in St. Petersburg, Florida does not name a person to serve as executor, or the decedent dies without having written a will, the court will appoint a person to act as estate administrator.
Usually, the person chosen to be executor is the one who would benefit most under the will, or under Florida's intestacy laws. "Intestacy" refers to a situation in which a person dies without a will, or "dies intestate." Every state has laws to address this situation, and there isn't a lot of variation from state to state. Usually, the decedent's property will go to his or her closest relative, and if absolutely no living relatives can be found, it will go to the state.
When a will is silent as to who should be the executor, any person who has some direct interest in the outcome can ask to be named executor by the St. Petersburg, Florida court.
Once an executor is appointed (whether by being named in the will, or on the application of another person), they "step into the shoes" of the estate, and are expected to protect its interests to the fullest extent possible. They also are required to accurately inventory the estate's debts and assets, as well as notify potential beneficiaries.
Can a St. Petersburg, Florida Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you find yourself named in a will as executor of an estate, and aren't sure how to meet your responsibilities, or where to begin, it would be a good idea to consult with an experienced St. Petersburg, Florida lawyer who can help you navigate this sometimes-perplexing process.