Editor’s note: The information in this column is not intended as legal advice, but is intended to convey a general understanding of the law. All readers with a legal problem, including those whose issues are addressed here, should seek advice from an attorney about their particular circumstances.
One of the most important functions a person can perform for their loved ones is to be their executor. This is an honor and privilege given to someone because of the person’s trust, belief, and trust in them.
If someone close to you has asked you to be the executor, you should be honored, but at the same time you cannot be sure of your responsibilities. What to do, when to do it and how long does it take?
One of the main parts of a will is the part where the person making the will (the testator) designates the executor. Who and what is an executor and what are some of the considerations to consider when choosing is this week’s topic.
The executor is the person who will carry out the instructions in your will and pay the estate’s debts and taxes. I do not mean that the executor pays these out of his pocket, but ensures that these items are paid for with the proceeds of the estate. Since the executor has broad responsibilities and authorities, it is important to choose a competent and trustworthy executor.
An executor can be any person or institution (such as a bank or trust company) that you choose. Here are some tips to consider when choosing an executor:
• Are you experienced and competent in business matters?
• Do you know your business, finances, and property?
• Are you willing and able to act as your executor?
• Are you able to spend the time required to perform the tasks of an executor?
• Can you work with the estate’s lawyer and accountant?
• Can you keep your company going?
Another important point to consider when choosing an executor is what would happen if they were unable to act as an executor when needed? It is best to have an alternate executor and, if possible, a third one. The reason for this is simple. If you do not choose a deputy, that is a matter for the court. The person who chooses the dish may not be someone you would like to have.
The tasks of the executor include:
• The first step is the inheritance of the will. To do this, an application must be submitted to the probate court of the place of jurisdiction in which the testator was domiciled at the time of his death;
• After the probate hearing, the county clerk will issue execution letters to the person or institution named in the will (after the executor signs an oath of office);
• A general notice to unsecured creditors within 30 days of his or her appointment;
• Within 60 days of the executor’s appointment, notification by registered mail or registered mail to any secured creditor whose debts are secured by a lien on Texas real estate or personal property on the estate
• Collecting the following documents to establish insurance, pension, social security and property claims: wills, birth and marriage certificates, social security number, citizenship papers, insurance policies (life, health, accident and property), bank books and bank statements, deeds, rental agreements, Care title / registration, income tax returns, veteran’s discharge certificates, disability claims, unpaid bills, property tax bills, and credit card information;
• Notify the post office, relatives, friends, employers, insurance agents (life, health and accident insurance), religious, fraternal, civic and veterans organizations, and trade unions of your death;
• Collecting, preserving and evaluating personal property;
• Securing the place of residence and checking the insurance cover.
• Prepare an inventory, assessment, and list of claims for your estate. The inventory, the appraisal and the list of claims must list the deceased’s entire estate and all claims owed by third parties to the estate. (Note that the term “receivables” in this context does not refer to debts of the testator or debts the testator owes to others, only amounts that other persons owe the testator.)
• Pay all applicable debts, including funeral expenses, administrative fees and expenses, medical bills, and incidental expenses, from your estate account;
• Application for social security benefits and employer identification number;
• Determine if your estate is taxable and ensure that your final tax return is filed;
• Distribution of money and property in accordance with the will.
As you can see, the executor plays a very important role in managing the testator’s estate. Usually the lawyer handling the estate will assist the executor with the above duties, but it still requires someone familiar with your affairs for all of the above information to be collected and processed.
While you can pay the executor compensation for his time and effort, this is not always the case. So make sure you have discussed your decision with the person you choose to make sure they are up to the task. And as always, consult an attorney when making this choice.
Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Moak & Moak law firm in Huntsville, PC. He is admitted to the Texas Supreme Court practice, is a member of State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate, and Fiduciary Division of the State Bar of Texas. www.moakandmoak.com.