Important Tips for the
Executor of the Estate
Executors play a significant role in settling the final affairs of a deceased person and distributing assets to heirs and beneficiaries. According to a 2018 study by EstateExec.com, on average, settling an estate takes an executor approximately 16 months or nearly 570 hours of effort. Therefore, when appointed as an executor, understanding your duties and responsibilities will make it possible for you to act diligently, ethically, and in accordance with the decedent's wishes.
I have devoted my career to offering comprehensive and experienced legal guidance to executors, fiduciaries, and families in complex estate planning and administration matters. As an experienced Texas probate and estate planning attorney, I can help you understand your duties and responsibilities as an executor and how to achieve them. My firm, Russell Manning Attorney at Law, proudly serves clients throughout Corpus Christi, Texas, including Bee County, South Texas, and the Coastal Bend area.
Important Tips for the Executor of the Estate
An executor is a person named in a testator's will and appointed by the probate court to administer a deceased person's estate, secure the estate's assets, and then distribute them in accordance with the provisions of the will or Texas intestate succession laws. If you have been appointed as an executor of an estate, here are some tips:
Understand Your Roles and Responsibilities
An executor has a fiduciary obligation to fulfill their duties in accordance with the decedent's best interests in mind. Therefore, before you start acting as an executor, ensure that you understand your roles and responsibilities.
Handle the Care of Surviving Loved Ones
One of the most important responsibilities of the executor is to see to the care of the decedent's loved ones, such as minor children, dependents, and pets. Losing a loved one can be a difficult period, and they will need all the love and support they can get. In case they cannot continue living in the deceased person's home, you can take them in temporarily.
Notify Close Family and Friends
Reach out to family members, friends, and close relatives to inform them about the decedent's passing. Likewise, ensure that you inform any employers, coworkers, banks, social security, and insurance companies.
With the person now deceased, some monthly subscriptions may not be required any longer. Find and eliminate unnecessary expenses, such as phone bills, gym memberships, subscriptions, and credit cards, to avoid incurring charges from automatic payments.
Gather Important Documentation
Another important role of the executor is to gather and keep important documents, such as:
- Legal pronouncement of death
- Copy of the will or trust
- Birth and death certificates
- Financial documents and bank account statements
- Investment statements
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce decree (if any)
- Certificates of title to vehicles owned
- Keys to home safe or safe deposit boxes
Hire an Estate Administration Attorney
Hiring an estate administration attorney is strongly recommended, especially if the decedent owned lots of assets, huge tax liabilities are present, or there is potential for disputes among inheritors. An experienced lawyer can guide you through every step involved in the probate and estate administration process, help execute your tasks diligently, and avoid potential liability.
Communicate regularly with everyone involved in the estate administration process, including the probate court officials, attorneys, real estate agents, accountants, and beneficiaries. Keep track of who is in charge of what tasks and keep notes of every communication you have with every person.
Collect and Evaluate Assets and Debts
Collect and evaluate all the deceased person's assets and debts. Pay taxes and debts and also file the final income tax returns. However, do not disperse assets to inheritors until the estate administration process is finalized and all debts and taxes have been paid.
Finally, as an executor, you need to take your time with the entire process. Don't let beneficiaries rush you through the process. It is better to be precise and ensure that you are honoring the wishes of the decedent than to get it done quickly. If you make a mistake or fail to follow the necessary steps, you may become personally liable.
Getting the Experienced Legal Guidance You Need
Administering an estate involves several complexities. If you have been appointed an executor by a deceased friend, family member, or a Texas probate court, you need to understand your roles and responsibilities in settling the deceased person's final affairs according to their wishes and required statutes. An experienced estate planning attorney can offer you proper guidance and help you navigate crucial decisions.
Contact me today to schedule a one-on-one case assessment with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. I can offer you the comprehensive legal counsel and reliable advocacy you need to perform your expected duties as an executor to an estate. My firm proudly serves clients throughout Corpus Christi, Texas, including Bee County, South Texas, and the Coastal Bend area.