Wills often nominate an executor to administer the deceased’s estate after he dies. Once officially appointed by a Texas court, the executor must gather the assets of the deceased, notify his creditors and pay his debts and taxes. After all this is done, the executor distributes the deceased’s remaining assets to those entitled to receive them under the terms of the will.
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Although the will usually nominates the executor, it is a Texas court that actually appoints him, and the executor has no authority to act on behalf of the estate until the appointment is complete. To qualify, the executor must take an oath and provide a bond, if required, within 20 days of appointment by the probate court. Once the executor qualifies, the court grants “letters testamentary,” which serve as evidence of the executor’s appointment and authority when the executor deals with others about the estate’s affairs.
One of the executor’s first duties is notifying the deceased’s creditors of his appointment, generally by publishing a notice in a local newspaper. This notice must be published within 30 days after the executor qualifies. Secured creditors -- those whose loans are secured by collateral, such as mortgage lenders -- require additional notice. The executor must mail a registered or certified letter, return receipt requested, to every secured creditor within two months of his qualification. Creditors may continue to present their claims to the estate at any time before the estate closes.
Texas executors must collect the property of the deceased and manage it while the probate case is pending. This may include hiring an attorney, accountant or appraiser to help the executor identify the deceased’s assets and establish values for them. Within 90 days of qualification, the executor must file a detailed inventory of the estate’s assets, including personal property and real estate, with the probate court. Under certain circumstances, the executor may file a more summarized affidavit instead of an inventory.
Closing the Estate
The executor must pay the debts and taxes owed by the deceased, and he has authority to sell the estate’s assets as appropriate to pay these debts and taxes. Once these are paid, the executor can distribute the remaining assets to the estate’s beneficiaries as listed in the deceased’s will. Once the executor has properly completed these duties, he can close the estate by filing a notice of closure with the probate court.
References & Resources
- Travis County Probate Court No. 1: Judge Guy Herman: A Guide for the Texas Independent Executor
- Texas Estate Planning and Probate Law: Duties of an Executor, Part One
- Ford Mathiason LLP: Texas Probate Process
- Texas Probate and Estate Planning Law Blog: Closing an Estate under Independent Administration
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