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What are the primary duties of an executor?

| May 6, 2020 | Probate & Estate Administration |

It can be an honor to be designated as the executor of someone’s will, but it can also be a terrifying experience. Executors have an enormous responsibility to carry out a person’s last wishes, and many times the decedent was a close family member or friend.

While the duties can be complicated, an executor is responsible for finding all assets associated with a person’s estate, paying off debts and creditors and making sure that what’s left is distributed to beneficiaries named in the will.

What are the specific duties?

In Texas, to serve as an executor, a person must be at least 18 years old, be of sound mind and be free of any potential conflicts of interest in administering someone’s estate. Here are some of the main duties they perform:

  • Get a copy of the will and file it with the probate court
  • Notify creditors, such as banks, credit card companies and others of the person’s death
  • Represent the estate in court, if necessary
  • Set up a bank account for paying bills and receiving funds
  • File an inventory of the estate’s assets
  • Maintain property until it is sold or distributed
  • Pay the estate’s debts and taxes
  • Distribute remaining assets to heirs

Executors have a “fiduciary duty”

While an executor does not have to be a lawyer or a financial expert, they are required to be honest and diligent in managing an estate. Fiduciary duty is a legal term which means the executor must act in good faith when administering a person’s will.

An executor is not entitled to receive compensation related to selling property of an estate. However, they are entitled to receive a fee, which is typically included in the person’s will. If not stipulated in the document, Texas law allows an executor to receive a 5% commission on the total proceeds of the estate.

Seek professional guidance when administering a will

Settling an estate often requires an executor to sell real estate, or settle ranch or farm-related dealings, and the process frequently involves dealing with complex investments owned by the decedent. An experienced probate law attorney can help you protect yourself from potential legal challenges, and efficiently accomplish the duties you have been asked to perform.

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