Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

An executor’s death can complicate probate and the estate

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | probate administration

An estate administrator has important duties associated with settling the estate and handling probate. At times, however, an executor may die. While this contingency is rare, it can complicate estate administration and probate. Naming a successor executor may avoid these problems.


An executor holds many important duties. These include:

  • Creating the inventory of the deceased individual’s estate.
  • Notifying creditors of the person’s death.
  • Liquidating estate assets to pay creditors.
  • Distributing assets to the decedent’s heirs according to their will.
  • Engaging in the probate process.

Death of an executor before the testator

When an executor dies before a testator, a new executor may be named. This may require amending the existing will or nullifying that will and drafting a new will that names the new executor.

If the testator takes no action, a court will name a new executor after the testator dies. Any interested person can petition the court for appointment as a testator.

Executor’s death during probate

If an executor dies during probate, a successor executor may finish the probate process. This is contingent on the will, however, identifying successor executors.

The court will name a successor executor when a successor is not named in the will. If multiple petitions are filed, the court can review each person’s qualifications before making an appointment.


The best precaution for people making a will is to name one or more individuals to succeed an executor who dies or who cannot perform their duties. That successor can take over during the probate process and handle other estate administration duties.

Assets may also be placed into a trust, which can allow them to bypass probate. In a trust, a trustee manages assets on behalf of the named beneficiaries. Trust beneficiaries gain access to their inheritance according to the terms of the trust without waiting for probate to conclude.

Sound estate planning and drafting can help assure that your wishes are carried out. It can also assure that your estate complies with Texas law.