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Executors 101

An executor is named in a Will to manage the decedent’s affairs upon the decedent’s death.  Before naming an executor or agreeing to serve in the role of an executor, there are a few things to you should know.  An executor is given the responsibility of ensuring that a decedent’s estate is settled according to the decedent’s wishes. The executor must protect the decedent’s estate (both real and personal property) until all taxes and debts, if any, are paid. Remaining property is transferred to beneficiaries in accordance with the decedent’s instructions in his Will. While an executor is not expected to be a legal or financial expert, an executor is charged with a fiduciary duty of acting in utmost good faith, diligence and honesty on behalf of the decedent.  An executor’s duties may vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate, but some of an executor’s duties are listed below:
  1. Locate and manage the decedent’s assets until debts are paid and remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries;
  2. Determine which type of probate proceeding is necessary and file the original Will (and any codicils) with the Court;
  3. Identify and inventory all of the decedent’s debts and assets, including date of death valuations for each to be filed with the Probate Court.  Note that if all debts are paid (excluding those secured by real estate), an affidavit in lieu of inventory may be filed with the Court;
  4. Determine the beneficiaries;
  5. Manage daily affairs and notify banks, government agencies, and creditors of the decedent’s death;
  6. Establish a bank account and obtain an taxpayer ID number for the decedent’s estate to receive any money owed to decedent’s estate or to pay debts of the estate and continuing expenses;
  7. File a final income tax return and federal estate tax return if necessary;
  8. Oversee the transfer of decedent’s property to decedent’s beneficiaries named in his Will.
The Austin Young Lawyers Association published a helpful guide (Probate Passport) to Probate in Texas that I encourage all of my clients to review when starting the probate process for a loved one. Please contact us if you have any questions about Texas Probate.


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