An executor can spend estate money, but not with impunity

Are you expecting an inheritance from a loved one who recently died? If so, you may find yourself somewhat distressed about what the executor is doing with the assets that belong to the estate.

One of the primary duties of the executor is to gather all of the assets and protect them during the estate administration process. This means opening a bank account for the estate in which to put any funds the estate owns and securing all other property. It could also mean spending some of that money and selling some assets depending on the situation.

Can the executor spend the estate's money on anything?

No. An executor cannot put estate assets or monies into a personal account. However, he or she may be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses and may receive compensation from the estate for his or her services as an executor.

Any payments required from the estate would come out of the account opened specifically for the estate. Funds from this account go toward paying any outstanding bills of your loved one, along with any expenses of the estate. In order to meet these requirements, the executor may sell assets.

Is the executor accountable to anyone?

Yes. The Florida judge presiding over the probate will require an accounting of all assets, including amounts in the estate's bank account. Any expenditures must be necessary and reasonable. The court will also want an accounting of every dollar spent during the estate administration process. In some instances, the executor will need the court's approval to take certain actions.

The executor's job is to preserve as much of the estate as possible for distribution, but as many of the estate's monetary obligations must be met as well. If the court is not satisfied with the information provided, the court could hold the executor personally liable. This means that he or she may have to repay the estate -- at the very least considering the prevailing circumstances.

What do I do if I have questions?

As a beneficiary of the estate, you should have the opportunity to ask questions. If the executor's answers do not satisfy you, you could take your concerns to the court. Depending on what the issue is, you may have legal options to pursue in order to rectify the issue.

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