Being appointed the executor of a will in Texas comes with a great deal of responsibility. An executor is the person who oversees the administration of someone’s estate after they pass away.
You must choose an executor when you create your will, and you will likely talk with that person about being an executor before naming them in the will. Therefore, if you are named an executor in someone else’s will, chances are you will know about it ahead of time.
However, you may still have plenty of questions about your duties and responsibilities as an executor, especially if the process is new to you. Fulfilling this role can be particularly challenging while you are still grieving for your loved one, as well.
An executor has three main duties:
- Identifying and collecting assets of the estate
- Paying any debts owed by the estate
- Distributing the remaining assets to heirs
Before beginning these duties, your first step is to present the will to the probate court so you can officially be authorized as the executor. Once this is accomplished, you can start performing your duties.
Make a list of all the estate assets. This includes any real estate, personal property, bank accounts and investment accounts.
The assets will likely be listed in the will. However, you should still perform searches to identify any assets that might have been missed or to confirm the assets are still available. If the will had not been updated in a while, there could be assets that were not included or that have since been sold.
After identifying the assets, you must notify all creditors about the death and give them a chance to request any owed payments. You should analyze each claim to ensure the debt is valid. If so, it can be satisfied through the estate’s assets, if possible.
Once the debts are satisfied, the remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. You may have found assets during your search that are not listed in the will. In that case, it is distributed according to the Texas law of intestate succession.
Finally, you might be required to take care of some final administrative tasks, such as filing a final tax return and paying any owed taxes. You are also responsible for closing bank accounts, cancelling credit cards or notifying the Social Security Administration of the death.
As an executor, you have fiduciary responsibilities to the beneficiaries. These include duties of loyalty and care. The actions you take as an executor must be in the best interests of the beneficiaries and you must perform your duties with care and prudence.
You also have a duty of confidentiality, meaning you cannot discuss information about the estate with outside parties.
The administration of an estate can be complex, but there are resources available to help you with your duties as an executor.