Probate is the legal process of managing a deceased person’s assets and debts. The executor, also known as the personal representative, plays an important role in the probate process.
The executor of an estate has several responsibilities outlined by the Texas Estates Code.
1. Filing the will
The executor needs to submit the deceased person’s will to the local probate court where the deceased lived when they passed away. If no will exists, as is the case in nearly 50% of all deaths in the U.S., the court appoints an administrator.
2. Notifying creditors and paying debts
The executor must inform creditors and interested parties about the probate proceedings. Creditors have a limited time to make claims against the estate. Executors are responsible for settling the deceased person’s unpaid bills. This could include funeral expenses, taxes and legitimate debts from creditors.
3. Managing and distributing assets
The executor’s job is to make a list of the deceased person’s belongings and, if needed, get appraisals to determine the estate’s total worth. During the probate process, executors may need to look after and protect the deceased’s assets. This could include real estate, investments and personal items.
After paying debts and costs, the executor divides the remaining assets among the beneficiaries, following the terms of the will or state laws if there is no will. Executors must keep beneficiaries informed about the probate’s progress, significant updates or delays.
4. Keeping records
An executor is responsible for keeping detailed records of all probate-related actions and financial transactions linked to the estate. They provide the court and beneficiaries with a full accounting. This is necessary for transparency and potential legal review.
5. Closing the estate
Before distributing assets and closing the estate, the executor must request the court’s approval. This requires filing a final report.
Being an executor in Texas demands careful attention to detail and a good grasp of the state’s probate laws. Executors often seek the advice of experienced professionals to navigate the probate process to ensure they fulfill all legal requirements.