The process of administering an estate can be complex. If a loved one named you as their executor or you expect to inherit from the estate, you may have many questions.
One of the most common questions we see concerns the duties of an executor. Ensuring that a will is properly administered is a big responsibility. A Texas executor has a fiduciary duty to undertake his or her tasks with the utmost care and integrity.
If someone has named you as the executor of their estate in Texas, a probate attorney can help you understand your responsibilities and advise you in properly carrying them out. Or if you are concerned about the administration of an estate of which you are a beneficiary, an attorney can help you understand your rights and advise you of any steps you may need to take if the estate has not been properly managed.
What Is an Executor?
An executor, also known as an administrator or a personal representative, is the person who administers someone’s estate after their death.
If the decedent left a will, then they will most likely name their chosen executor in the will. If there is no will or the decedent did not choose an executor, the court will appoint one. The executor receives fair compensation for their work in administering the estate.
Who Can Be an Executor of an Estate in Texas?
Before someone can be named executor of an estate, Texas law requires that they be:
- At least 18 years old,
- Of sound mind,
- Not have been convicted of a felony, and
- Not have a conflict of interest.
If the executor is not a Texas resident, they will need to appoint a resident agent who can accept legal papers on behalf of the estate. A corporation may be appointed as an executor as long as it is authorized to act as a fiduciary in Texas.
Most often, the executor is a spouse, an adult child, or another close family member.
What Are Executor Duties in Texas?
The duties of an executor of a will include all tasks involved in administering, distributing, and wrapping up the estate. An executor’s duties in Texas require them to:
- Locate and notify all beneficiaries of the will;
- Give notice to the decedent’s creditors;
- Identify and collect all the decedent’s assets;
- Take steps to maintain and protect the assets;
- Pay all the decedent’s debts;
- Bring a wrongful death suit, if appropriate, if family members do not;
- Complete any pending legal action the decedent was involved in prior to their death;
- Prepare and file tax returns;
- Account for all assets and payments made by the estate; and
- Distribute the assets in accordance with the will.
In fulfilling these tasks, the executor of an estate in Texas has a fiduciary duty to act for the estate’s benefit.
What Is a Texas Executor Fiduciary Duty?
A fiduciary duty is a special duty that arises because of a special relationship between individuals. It requires the person who owes the fiduciary duty to act in the interests of those to whom they owe the duty. A Texas executor owes a fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries.
An executor breaches their fiduciary duty when they put their own interests ahead of the estate’s beneficiaries or neglect to carry out their responsibilities. Examples of an executor’s breach of duty include:
- Mismanaging estate assets;
- Misappropriating estate assets;
- Hiding estate assets;
- Failing to notify beneficiaries of their interests;
- Using estate assets for the executor’s own benefit;
- Unnecessarily delaying distributions to beneficiaries;
- Paying themselves large fees;
- Selling estate assets for an inappropriate price;
- Ignoring important deadlines; and
- Failing to collect money owed to the estate.
If an executor has breached their fiduciary duty in an estate where you are a beneficiary, a probate attorney can help. There are a number of remedies you can pursue to ensure the estate is handled property up to and including litigation.
Talk to an Attorney
If you have any concerns about the administration of an estate in which you have an interest, contact Adam Curley at The Curley Law Firm today. Adam understands the duties of an executor of a will in Texas. He knows how to help executors and beneficiaries alike and can help you ensure that your loved one’s final wishes are carried out. Call The Curley Law Firm or contact us online to set up an initial consultation and learn how Adam can help you.