If you are named in a will as the executor of an estate, Texas law imposes upon you certain responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to hire an attorney to guide you through the process. This is because as executor, you represent the interests of both beneficiaries and creditors, and only a licensed attorney can represent the interest of others.
There are exceptions to this rule which your attorney will discuss with you. Briefly, one exception is if you are the sole beneficiary.
Responsibilities of the Executor of an Estate
Specific responsibilities imposed by Texas law include:
Notifying the beneficiaries of the decedent’s death. If they cannot easily be located, you may need to put a notice of death in newspapers.
Locating and inventorying assets. This includes locating:
- Personal property such as vehicles, boats, checking accounts, jewelry, antiques, safe deposit box contents, and others.
- Financial holdings. Retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, investment accounts.
- Real estate the decedent owned in Texas and any real estate the decedent owned in another state.
- Businesses owned by decedent or owned in partnership with others.
You must inventory the assets and the value each asset at the time of the decedent’s death. This document must usually be filed with the court.
Paying decedent’s debts and taxes. All creditors must be given notice of the death and the opening of probate. Creditors can file a claim and the executor has a duty to verify it is a legitimate debt. If so the debt must be paid.
Tax returns must be filed, the Social Security Administration notified of the death, and all credit cards must be canceled.
You also have a duty to identify estate property that is exempt from creditors and set it aside for the beneficiaries.
Recognizing priority rights. Spouses and minor children have rights which may include payment of an allowance while the estate is being probated.
Distribution of assets. After all other duties have been fulfilled, you then distribute the assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.
In fulfilling your duties as an executor, keep in mind at every step of the way, you have a fiduciary duty to preserve assets and to act always in the best interest and with loyalty to the beneficiaries.
Contact The Reecer Law Firm PLLC for Assistance
This is just an overview of the responsibilities of an executor. Depending on the will and the size of the estate, there may be other responsibilities you must fulfill as the executor.
Dena Reecer, founder and owner of The Reecer Law Firm PLLC, is one of just a few Texas attorneys who are Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contact the firm for more information about your responsibilities as the executor of an estate.