First things first. Acting as a personal representative of someone’s estate is a big responsibility, but remember – if your loved one named you as the executor, he or she must have believed you were capable of carrying out the task.
Second, it is quite normal to have a ton of questions about what you are supposed to do. Most executors select an experienced attorney to provide advice and guidance along the way, with the legal fees being paid by the estate. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what you can expect in your role as executor.
Am I an executor or a personal representative or an administrator?
Technically, they are same thing. A personal representative of an estate is a general term and can refer to either an executor or an administrator. The primary difference between an executor and an administrator is how the job came about – an executor is chosen by the decedent and named in the decedent’s will, while an administrator petitions the probate court after the death of a person for permission to manage the person’s estate in cases where there was no will.
Regardless which title comes with the job, your duties are essentially the same. With the help of your attorney, you will petition the probate court for permission to manage the estate, pay valid claims, and legally distribute the assets to the heirs of the estate.
What am I in charge of?
The executor is responsible for gathering and protecting assets and generating an inventory of the assets owned by the deceased, which may include some or all of the following:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate
- Stocks, bonds and other securities
- Life insurance proceeds, if payable to the estate
- Vehicles titled in the deceased’s name
- Contents of safe deposit boxes
- Household goods and furnishings
You don’t have to physically gather everything, but you should take steps to make sure assets are reasonably secure, insured and maintained.
What about claims against the estate?
Valid claims against the estate should be paid according to priority set by Texas law. Certain types of claims, such as the cost of funeral expenses and estate administration, have a greater priority than general unsecured debts, for example. It is best not to pay any claims, however, until the estate has been fully inventoried and the time period for filing claims against the estate has expired. Even then, be sure to seek legal advice since, as the executor, you may be liable if you pay claims that should not have been paid.
How do I get started?
If you need help administering an estate, contact an experienced Bryan, Texas estate planning attorney at Peterson Law Group. Call 979-703-7014 to schedule a consultation and get the advice you need to open and manage your loved one’s estate. The attorneys at Peterson Law Group are experienced in handling estates of all sizes and are here to assist you at any time.