An executor needs to use best judgement in deciding how to use authority.
An executor has considerable discretion in deciding what is in the best interest of the estate and that authority does not always have to be exercised, according to Wealth Management in “Estate Not Liable for Car Accident After Decedent’s Death.”
In this case, the decedent’s adult daughter had lived with him. Although she had a car of her own, she often used her father’s car with his permission. She was driving her deceased father’s car, when she got in an accident and struck another vehicle.
Subsequently, the decedent’s stepson was appointed to be the personal representative of the estate.
Under Florida law, if the daughter was driving the vehicle with the permission of the owner, then the owner could be held liable for any damages, which in this case would be the estate.
Occupants of the other vehicle in the accident sued the estate. However, the personal representative of the estate declined to retroactively authorize the daughter’s use of the vehicle. Therefore, the estate would not be liable for any damages.
The case turned on whether the personal representative was required to exercise that retroactive authority. The court ultimately ruled that he was not required to do something that is harmful to the estate.