If you are the executor or personal representative of an estate in Texas, you have several important duties. The executor has a fiduciary duty to perform the tasks necessary to probate the state and to protect the best interests of the heirs. If you are unsure of what you need to do as an executor, a Texas estate planning lawyer can help you. You are entitled to seek legal counsel and retain an attorney, if necessary, to assist you in carrying out your duties as an executor.
Top 10 Duties You Perform as Executor for a Texas Estate
The list of duties and responsibilities below is not a complete list of everything you may be required to do as the executor of an estate. Each estate is different; therefore, you may have additional tasks to perform in your role as a personal representative or administrator of the estate. However, the following duties are typical in most probate estates in Texas.
- Obtain the original will and file it with the probate court in the county in which the deceased last resided before his or her death. Filing the will with the court is necessary to open the estate and to obtain an order appointing you as the executor of the estate.
- Notify the heirs of the estate of the death. This step consists of mailing a notice to the heirs providing the estate information and your contact information.
- Secure all assets of the estate. The assets of the estate typically consist of any property the deceased owned at the time of death. However, some property may pass outside of the probate estate, such as property that passes directly to a beneficiary (i.e. retirement accounts, POD accounts, and life insurance proceeds) and property held by a trust. You may need to open an estate bank account, store property, and secure real estate holdings.
- Notify creditors and other parties in interest of the decedent’s death. Parties in interest may be financial institutions, Social Security Administration, and other government agencies.
- Review creditor claims and pay just debts. You may be required to object to the claims of various creditors who fail to provide adequate information to verify a debt or when you believe the decedent did not owe the debt.
- Prepare and file a complete inventory of property with the court.
- In some cases, you may need to liquidate property in accordance with the terms of the will or to pay estate debts.
- You are required to represent the estate in all probate litigation that may arise, such as a challenge to the will by an heir.
- If a personal tax return or estate tax return is required, you are responsible for the preparation and filing of all required tax returns.
- When it is time to distribute the estate assets, you are responsible for distributing the assets, including preparing and signing deeds or titles as required to transfer title to certain assets.
Throughout the estate process, you are responsible for preparing and filing all probate forms by the deadlines set by the court or by the probate code.
Contact a Texas Estate-Planning Attorney for Help
You do not need to attempt to handle all aspects of a probate estate alone. You can retain the services of various professionals to assist you, including accountants, tax professionals, appraisers, realtors, and a Texas estate-planning attorney. Schedule a consult with one of our experienced estate-planning lawyers today. Our Texas probate attorneys can protect your loved ones and provide guidance for you on how long probate might take in your situation.