I've Been Appointed
Executor. Now What?
According to a 2018 EstateExec survey, on average, it takes an executor about 16 months or approximately 570 hours of effort to settle an estate. Being named as the executor in someone's will means that person believes in your ability to settle their final affairs, which includes tasks such as collecting assets, settling debts, filing estate tax returns, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
If you've been appointed as an executor to settle an estate, consulting with an experienced Texas estate administration attorney is crucial for proper guidance. I have devoted my career to guiding executors and families through the estate administration process. I will provide you with the experienced legal counsel and advocacy you need to carry out your duties and responsibilities as an executor to an estate.
Attorney Russell Manning proudly serves clients throughout Corpus Christi, Texas, including South Texas, Bee County, and the Coastal Bend area.
What is an Executor?
An executor of an estate is a person appointed to administer the estate of a deceased person. The executor manages the final affairs and wishes of the decedent's estate in accordance with the will, trust, estate planning document, or applicable statute (if there is no will or trust). A female executor may be referred to as "executrix."
An executor must be over the age of 18 and be of sound mind. Under Texas law, an executor may not be any individual who was convicted of a felony under state or federal law unless they have been pardoned.
The Executor's Roles & Responsibilities
An executor has a fiduciary duty to fulfill his or her roles and responsibilities with the decedent's best interests in mind. Also, the executor should act with the highest ethical standards and follow all applicable statutes. The executor's roles include:
- Gather all the decedent's important documents
- Present the will or file with the probate court
- Determine assets and debts
- Recover all money owed to the estate
- File estate taxes
- Administer the estate
- Notify the heirs and beneficiaries
- Protect the deceased's assets until they are transferred to the beneficiaries
- Distribute the assets
Dependent vs. Independent Administration
Texas estates are usually settled either through dependent or independent administration. In a dependent administration, close court supervision is often required. The executor must get court approval for most actions. Likewise, he or she must report to the court regularly. Transactions such as selling estate's property may need pre-approval. Dependent administration is usually necessary where there are disputes among heirs and beneficiaries.
Conversely, in an independent administration, the executor has more autonomy to perform their duties without the need to report their actions to the court or obtain pre-approval to carry out estate transactions. Texas courts may grant independent administration if:
- An executor was specified in the will by the deceased
- All beneficiaries agreed to an independent executor since the will didn't specify independent administration.
How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You Move Forward
Before you start serving as executor, you have to understand both your legal and financial responsibilities. This is why it's important to consult with a knowledgeable estate administration attorney immediately for proper guidance.
For more than 30 years, I have been handling probate, estate administration, planning, and litigation matters. As your legal counsel, I will:
- help you understand the estate plan;
- explain your rights and responsibilities as an executor and how to fulfill them;
- assist in communicating with beneficiaries and distributing assets;
- provide legal guidance and assistance with estate tax issues;
- handle creditors and debt management;
- prepare an interactive checklist to help you through the estate administration process; and
- handle court processes and procedures.
Together, we can ensure that the estate was managed properly and avoid any unnecessary liability.
Call my law firm today to schedule a one-on-one consultation. Using my extensive experience, I can guide you through the estate administration process and help you navigate key decisions as an executor. Attorney Russell Manning is proud to serve clients throughout Corpus Christi, Bee County, South Texas, and the Coastal Bend area.