Under Texas Probate Law, an executor has three basic duties 1) to identify and collect the assets of the Decedent's estate, 2) to pay any debts owed by the Decedent, and 3) to distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries in the Will. Texas Probate Lawyer Jason Coomer works with executors and administrators to help them through the probate process. He handles Texas Probate matters including probating Wills, contesting Wills, and filing suits to determine rightful heirs of property and estates. For questions on Texas Probate matters, please e-mail Texas Probate lawyer Jason S. Coomer at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact form.
Executors and Administrators under Texas Probate Law
The term “executor” refers to the person named in a Will to carry out the terms and provisions of the Will. In most Wills, the executor is names as an independent executor which means that the executor can act without court approval. If someone dies without a Will, an administrator can be appointed to perform similar duties as the executor. The administrator follows Texas law instead of the Will and can also be independent or dependent depending on the estate and court. Texas law prescribes a list of those people entitled to serve as administrator as well as people that are excluded from serving as an executor.
The Executor or Administrator has three main functions including to:
Identify and Collect the assets of the Decedent’s estate;
Pay any debts that the Decedent owed at the time of his or her death; and
Distribute the remaining assets according to either the Will or pursuant to Texas law if the Decedent died without a Will.
Each of these duties includes responsibilities for the Executor or Administrator to handle in determining the assets and debts of the estate and distributing the estate. Many of these responsibilities will be the same regardless of the type of probate administration you have (either independent or dependent), but the duties can vary significantly and become much more difficult if the administration is dependent.
Below the duties of the Executor and Administrator are discussed in more detail.
Identifying/Collecting Assets: The Executor is responsible for identifying all assets of the Decedent including homes, automobiles, mineral interests, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, pensions, other real estate, personal property, and jewelry. A listing of the Decedent's assets at the time of death will need to be provided to the Court (this is called the “Inventory”). This is done, so that the Court & beneficiaries understand the full extent of the assets in the estate. Once all of the assets have been identified, the Executor must collect and protect those assets. For instance, the Executor will close bank accounts and open an account in the name of the Estate. Real estate should be secured and insured. Stock certificates should be safeguarded.
Determining, Noticing, & Paying Debts: The Executor has the responsibility to notify all creditors of the death of the Decedent and determine what debts the estate has. In doing this the Executor will receive and approve or deny all Claims filed by Creditors of the estate. Once the assets of the Estate have been collected and the creditor claims identified, then the Executor has the responsibility to pay the outstanding debts of the estate. If the debts exceed the amount of assets in the estate, the Probate Code lays out the method by which the debts will be pro-rated.
Distributing Remaining Assets: Once all of the assets have been collected and the debts paid, the Executor or Administrator has the responsibility to distribute the remaining assets pursuant to the provisions of the Will, or if the Decedent died without a Will, then the assets are distributed according to the provisions of the Probate Code. Generally, the Executor should attempt to obtain a Receipt from each of the beneficiaries or heirs receiving a portion of the Estate. Those receipts should be filed with the Court as evidence that the Executor has correctly fulfilled his final duties.
Austin Texas Probate Attorney Jason Coomer drafts Wills, assists in Estate Planning, and handles Probate Matters. For questions on Estate Planning, Wills, or Texas Probate matters, please e-mail Austin Estate Planning lawyer Jason S. Coomer at email@example.com or use our contact form.
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