If a person trusts you so much that he or she wishes you to administer his or her estate, you can consider it a great honor. However, it is also a serious responsibility that carries numerous obligations and duties you must fulfill if you have accepted the designation. When serving as an executor to a Texas estate, there are several key issues to keep in mind.
First, this is a duty that you will carry out in conjunction with a legal process. If the decedent has signed a last will and testament, it is legally enforceable. As the executor, your duty is to make sure the decedent’s instructions and final wishes are fulfilled. You are not free to change the will or disregard any of its contents.
An overview of your basic duties as executor to a Texas estate
The following list includes some of the tasks you will carry out as an executor to a Texas estate:
- Taking possession of the decedent’s assets
- Notifying beneficiaries whose inheritance exceeds $2,000
- Publishing required notices to creditors
- Submitting a complete inventory or affidavit in lieu of inventory to the court
- Allowing or disallowing claims that creditors present to you
These are some of the primary duties entrusted to you as an executor. In certain circumstances, legal complications may arise as you attempt to fulfill such duties, in which case it is helpful to seek guidance and support from someone who is well-versed in Texas estate and probate laws.
Are you also a beneficiary to the estate for which you’re serving as executor?
In many cases, a person who has accepted the responsibility of executorship for a Texas estate may also be a beneficiary to the same estate. For instance, if you are the eldest child of the decedent, your parent may have entrusted you to administer the estate but also listed you as a beneficiary.
In such circumstances, it’s common for an executor to waive payment that he or she would otherwise have received for serving as executor because accepting the payment could lower the inheritance amount for other beneficiaries. Serving as executor while also being a beneficiary can spur emotional upheaval, as well, such as if you face a decision to sell your childhood home to pay off debt associated with the estate rather than take ownership of the house as a beneficiary.
Where to seek guidance and support
Whether you are an executor or beneficiary (or both) of a Texas estate, you might encounter legal complications or have questions about state laws, especially if you live in another state. Before carrying out your duties or receiving an inheritance, you’ll want to be sure that you fully understand the implications of each role, particularly issues associated with state or federal taxes, selling assets and other important matters. Certified public accountants and estate law attorneys often provide guidance and support to executors and beneficiaries.