Everything you need to know about suing an executor in Florida

by | Aug 7, 2023 | Estate Planning, Probate And Trust Litigation

Florida laws hold executors to high standards when they make decisions or act on behalf of an estate. They are bound by what is known as “fiduciary duties” to always act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. If an executor fails to follow these laws, beneficiaries can file a lawsuit for the court to relieve them of their duties or order them to compensate the estate for the losses incurred. Here’s what happens.

Individuals who can sue an executor

Not anyone can bring a lawsuit against an executor in Florida. The ones allowed to sue them include the estate’s beneficiaries, creditors and other interested persons like unpaid employees. All these parties have to prove that they are financially affected by the executor’s actions or inactions.

Grounds for suing an executor

You can sue an executor if you think they have breached their fiduciary duties. This potentially includes:

  • Failing to act with loyalty and care on behalf of the estate
  • Not paying the estate’s debts or creditors in a timely manner
  • Breaching any agreement made with the beneficiaries of an estate
  • Engaging in self-dealing, such as using funds from the estate for their personal benefit

Filing the lawsuit

Probate litigation begins after filing the lawsuit in the county where the decedent’s estate is being administered. The court will then issue a summons, which will require the executor to respond to the claims made against them. If they fail to appear or provide an answer satisfactory to both parties, the presiding judge can grant a default judgment on the plaintiff’s terms.

If they respond to the court order, the lawsuit will proceed to trial, where each party will present evidence, witness testimony and legal arguments regarding the executor’s accountability for their actions or inaction. The court may then decide on what action needs to take place – it could include removing an executor’s powers, ordering them to pay compensation or giving the estate other relief.

Whatever the resulting decision may be, it is important to remember that suing an executor should always be a last resort. It may be helpful to consider other avenues, such as mediation or arbitration, to resolve any disputes that may arise because they are much faster, more affordable and considerate to all parties involved.


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