If your deceased loved one has put you in charge of administering the estate during their lifetime or mentioned it in their estate plan, you may want to get legal assistance of an experienced estate administration attorney in order to get everything right. At The Borger Law Firm PLLC, we have handled many estate administration cases over the years and have thorough understanding of Texas laws to guide you throughout the process.
Who Is An Executor?
If the decedent has left a will, they are likely to name a single person or a few people as executors to bear the responsibility of handling their financial affairs and undertake the estate distribution. An executor must be over 18 years of age, of sound mind, and should be willing to take up the task. Mostly, they are close relatives and/or trusted friends, but a professional individual can be named as well. In case of no executors or in the absence of a will, court may appoint an administrator.
The Estate Administration Process
During the estate administration process, an executor is required to perform several duties, including, but not limited to:
- Collecting the assets of the deceased
- Determining the value of property and assets owned at the time of death
- Paying off estate taxes, if any
- Filing for tax return and paying final income taxes
- Paying debts and handling creditors’ claims against the estate
- Identifying heirs or beneficiaries, in case the decedent died without a will
- Distributing the property and assets according to the instructions laid out in the trust, will and other estate documents
During the process, titles of certain types of properties are to be passed to the heirs or beneficiaries immediately upon the owner’s death. However, it is essential to keep the court involved in each transaction and/or transfer to protect the rights of beneficiaries and creditors. Generally, almost every step requires detailed documentation, and the administrator is required to seek court’s approval before executing or completing a task.
Different Types Of Administration
In a dependent administration the administrator is required to get approval of the court for most of their actions. It is mandatory for the executor to post a bond as a form of protection against mishandling or theft of the estate. The dependent executor may have to hire the services of an attorney because of the many intricacies involved in a dependent administration. Some court requirements that a dependent executor must fulfill include:
- File an inventory showing the total assets of the deceased’s estate with the court
- Issue a notice to potential creditors
An independent executor is not required to get the court’s approval in every transfer or transaction. They are chosen under specific circumstances. If:
- The deceased person left a will that specifies their executor to be independent
- The deceased person did not leave a will, but all of the heirs have agreed to allow an independent executor to administer the estate
- The will does not allow for the executor to be independent, but all of the beneficiaries have given their consent to use an independent executor
In some cases, the court may execute the estate without appointing any executor. This is known as muniment of title, and this option is only available in Texas.
What An Estate Administration Attorney Can Do For You
An estate administration attorney assists trustees, executors and beneficiaries in a number of areas during the probate and estate administration process, such as:
- Determine the necessity of probate (Not all wills need to be probated!)
- Draft the application to probate will or application for an intestate administration (decedent died without a will.)
- Collection of estate assets
- Filing of required inventory
- Notification to creditors and resolution of estate debts
- Distribution of property to heirs
- Represent the estate executor/administrator in legal actions defending the estate against contests or lawsuits
Talk To An Experienced Estate Administration Attorney Today
If you have been appointed as an executor and need to ensure you perform your duties in the right way or protect yourself against allegations, you may need an estate administration attorney to help you out. Contact The Borger Law Firm PLLC today at 832-263-8098 or send an inquiry by filling the form below. Our law firm is located in The Woodlands, and we serve clients in Montgomery County and surrounding areas in Texas.