When a person dies in Florida, all their property, or rather their estate, must go somewhere. Usually, if they have descendants or any relatives, the assets will go to them. If not, the state will take it. The person responsible for finding and distributing the decedent’s assets according to their wishes or state laws (if they didn’t leave behind a will) is known as an executor. The law requires these people to conduct their duties in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. If your executor made costly avoidable mistakes or was outrightly negligent in handling the estate, you can take legal action against them.
Florida laws regarding executor lawsuits
First and foremost, executors are protected by what is known as the “prudent man rule.” This rule essentially states that as long as the executor acted as a reasonable person would have under the same circumstances, they cannot be held liable for any mistakes made. If someone proves that the executor did not act reasonably or prudently, then the court may find them liable.
In addition, to sue an executor, you must have what is known as “standing.” Standing means that you are someone who would be affected by the outcome of the probate litigation. In other words, you must have a personal stake in the case.
How to sue an executor
The first step is to send a demand letter. This is essentially a letter that outlines your grievances and demands resolution. You should send it to the executor and any other parties involved, such as the estate’s attorney or the probate court.
If the executor does not respond to your demand letter or refuses to take action, you can file a lawsuit against them. You will need to do this in circuit court, which is the type of court that hears cases involving disputes over money or property. You will also need to prove that you have standing, and that the executor was negligent in their duties.
It’s important to note that even if you win your case against an executor, they may not have to pay any damages out of their own pocket. This is because most executors in Florida are protected by what is known as “executor bonds.” These bonds are basically insurance policies that the executor takes out to protect them from having to pay damages if someone sues them.