One of the most important reasons to make a will is to name your executor -- commonly called a "personal representative" in Florida. After your death, your executor's primary job is to protect your property until any debts and taxes have been paid, and then transfer what's left to those who are entitled to it.
Every state has some rules about who may serve as the executor of an estate that goes through probate. Here are the requirements in Florida.
Your executor must be:
Like many other states, Florida prohibits people who have felony convictions from serving as an executor.
(Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 733.303, 733.504.)
In addition to the above requirements for individuals, Florida law imposes restrictions on the types of corporations that can serve as executor. In Florida, while you can name a bank, trust company, or savings and loan association as your personal representative, it must be authorized to act as a fiduciary in the state. That said, you should think carefully before appointing a corporation to represent your estate. It's almost always best to name an individual; consider an institution only if you don't know anyone you trust enough to serve, or your estate is very large and complex. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 733.305.)
For practical reasons, it's smart to name an executor who lives near you. Your executor may have to handle day-to-day matters for weeks, months, or sometimes longer. If you must appoint an executor who lives far away, you should know the requirements Florida imposes on out-of-state executors.
In Florida, a nonresident executor must be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption. For example, the following people would be eligible to serve as your out-of-state-executor:
(See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 733.304.)
If you want to know more about an executor's duties and responsibilities in Florida, the Florida Bar Association offers a pamphlet describing the probate process.
For more information about choosing your executor and making your will, see the Wills section of Nolo.com.