In all likelihood, the average person has never served as an executor for someone’s estate. In many instances, the executor named in a will remains unaware of having been chosen for the position until after a loved one’s death.
If one of these situations applies to you, it’s smart to do a little research and then seek experienced advice. The duties of being an executor carry a substantial amount of responsibility, but with a basic understanding of what is required and the right people on your team, the job can be relatively simple.
What is an executor?
The executor acts as the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, performing essentially the same duties as an estate administrator, which is the title given to a person who manages an estate when a person dies without a will.
Regardless whether you carry the title of personal representative, executor, or estate administrator, one of the first things you must do for the estate is conduct an inventory. During the inventory stage, you should identify and locate all potential assets of the estate, such as:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Cash on hand
- Life insurance proceeds, if payable to the estate
- Other investment property
- Other items of value owned by the decedent
Be sure to keep a written account of all property belonging to the estate at the time of death, along with an explanation and details for any disposition or loss of property.
How do I handle the estate’s debts?
Debts of the estate are due to be paid according to priority established under Texas law. The executor doesn’t necessarily get to pick and choose which debts to pay, particularly if there are not enough assets to provide for a surviving spouse and pay all valid claims.
As soon as the estate is opened, you should provide notice to each of the decedent’s known. You should also publish the notice of death to provide constructive notice to any unknown creditors. Once notified, creditors have a deadline within which to make a claim against the estate.
We can help
An experienced probate attorney can guide you through petitioning the probate court for permission to manage the estate and explain how to proceed step-by-step thereafter. At Peterson Law Group, our attorneys are experienced in litigating estates of all sizes and are here to help you navigate probate, whether you need just a little advice or in-depth representation throughout the process. Contact our experienced Bryan, Texas estate planning attorneys at Peterson Law Group at 979-703-7014 to schedule a consultation, or visit us online.