When a loved one dies, their estate must be sorted and their final wishes carried out. This is the job of the executor, and they have a lot of responsibility to ensure that everything goes according to plan. They must inventory the estate, pay any debts and taxes, and distribute the assets according to the will. If you are chosen as the executor of a loved one's estate, it is important to know what your duties are.
In this article we will discuss:
1. What is an executor and what are their duties
2. How to choose the executor of your will
3. The probate process in Texas
4. Tips for someone appointed as executor of an estate
5. Common mistakes made by executors
6. Resources for executors
What is an executor and what are their duties
An executor is a person who is responsible for carrying out the wishes of a decedent as spelled out in their will. An executor is responsible for many things when it comes to an estate. They must take care of the estate, pay any debts and taxes, and distribute the assets according to the will. This can be a complex process, and executors need to be organized and efficient.
The executor is designated in the will, but they do not have any authority until probate is granted. Probate is a process where the will is validated by the court. Once probate is granted, the executor has the authority to act on behalf of the estate.
The executor has a lot of responsibility to ensure that everything goes according to plan. They must make sure that they are aware of all the assets in the estate and pay any debts and taxes that are owed. Then, they must distribute the assets according to the will. This may include selling assets, if necessary. Finally, they must have a final tax return prepared and filed.
If you are chosen as the executor of a loved one's estate, it is important to know what your duties are. Make sure you are organized and efficient, so you can ensure a smooth transition for the estate.
How to choose the executor of your will
When it comes time to choose an executor for your will, you need to pick someone who is organized and efficient. The executor has a lot of responsibility to ensure that the estate is handled properly. They must pay any debts and taxes that are owed and distribute the assets according to the will.
Texas law requires that the person be over the age of 18 and not be convicted of a felony. Other than that, there are no specific requirements. You can choose anyone you trust to carry out your wishes.
It is important to choose someone who you trust and who you know will carry out your wishes. You may want to consider naming a family member or friend as executor. They will likely have a better understanding of your wishes than a stranger would. Larger estates may also pick a corporate fiduciary to act as executor as well - especially if no one suitable is available.
The probate process in Texas
The process of probate in Texas can be complex. The executor, through the attorney they have hired, must file an application with the court and provide a copy to all interested parties. The application will list the name of the deceased, the date of death, and the name and address of the executor.
After the petition is filed, there will be a "hearing." A hearing is a meeting with the judge - usually in a courtroom, although many times, an uncontested probate hearing might be in front of one of the judge's assistants or not in the courtroom. At that time, the executor's attorney will ask the executor questions about the decedent, the will, and the executor. Assuming there are no hiccups, the judge will sign the order granting the application and admitting the will to probate.
After that, the executor may receive letters testamentary from the probate clerk's office. Letters testamentary are used to show that the executor has authority to deal with the decedent's estate. The document states that the executor has been appointed by the court and they are authorized to carry out the duties of the estate.
If you are chosen as the executor of a loved one's estate, make sure you have a copy of this letter so you can show it to creditors, banks, and other interested parties.
Tips for someone appointed as executor of an estate
If you have been appointed as the executor of an estate, there are a few best practices and tips that you should keep in mind. First, make sure that you are aware of all the assets in the estate and any debts that are owed. This will help you to ensure that everything is taken care of properly.
You will also want to make a plan for how you will distribute the assets according to the will. This may include selling off any assets that are not necessary. It is important to be organized and efficient so that the process goes smoothly.
Finally, make sure that you have a final tax return prepared and filed. This can be a complex process, and it is important to ensure that everything is done correctly.
Here are a few more tips to help you through the process:
- Be aware of the deadlines for submitting paperwork and paying taxes.
- Keep accurate records of all transactions related to the estate.
- Make sure that you understand the will and are able to carry out the deceased's wishes.
- Communicate with all interested parties, including creditors and banks.
- Be organized and efficient so that the process goes smoothly.
Following these tips will help you to successfully manage an estate.
Common mistakes made by executors
One of the most common mistakes made by executors is not understanding the will. This can lead to confusion and a longer process overall. Not understanding the wishes of the deceased can also cause problems with creditors and banks.
Another common mistake is failing to communicate with all interested parties. This can lead to missed deadlines, confusion about the status of the estate, and potential ill will with the beneficiaries - especially if they are already distrustful.
Being disorganized and inefficient can also lead to problems. This includes failing to keep accurate records or not following through on plans.
All of these mistakes can slow down or complicate the probate process. It is important for executors to be aware of these mistakes and take steps to avoid them.
Resources for executors
If you are chosen as the executor of a loved one's estate, there are a few resources that can help you through the process. The Texas State Law Library offers resources on probate here: https://guides.sll.texas.gov/probate Courts, particularly the larger ones, often have resources for executors. Harris county has one of the best:
If you have been appointed as an executor of a loved one's estate in Texas and need help figuring out what to do after they've passed, give us a call today at 214-292-4225