What Can an Executor Legally Charge the Estate for in Texas?

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

What Can an Executor Legally Charge the Estate for in Texas?

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

In Texas, when a person accepts the role of an executor, they receive a 5-percent commission on the amounts they collect and pay out in cash while administering an estate. This is of course assuming that the executor carries out their duties properly. An executor's responsibilities can last months or even years, so they must be paid a fair amount for their time. In addition to being paid for administering an estate, they are entitled to reimbursement for any ordinary, reasonable, and necessary expenses incurred during the process.

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Probate in Texas

When a person dies in Texas, some or all of their estate must go through a court probate process before assets can be passed down to their heirs or beneficiaries. Probate is essentially the process of settling a person's estate. The person responsible for administering the decedent's estate is called an executor, also known as a personal representative. Oftentimes, an executor is named in a will. If there is no will, the probate court will appoint an executor on its own. This person is usually a close family member or loved one.

Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, probate can last anywhere from a few months to a couple years. Because it can be time-consuming and expensive, Texas law provides that executors be paid for performing required duties. These include gathering and inventorying the estate's assets, paying the deceased's final debts, and distributing any remaining property to the heirs or beneficiaries as instructed in the will or by state law.

Compensation for the Executor

If the deceased left behind a will naming an executor, they may dictate in their will the specific amount of compensation that person should receive. If the will does not mention compensation, the default rates set in the Texas Probate Code apply. Under state law, as long as an executor properly carries out their administration duties, they are entitled to receive a 5-percent commission on the amounts they obtain and disburse in cash. However, an executor's compensation shall not exceed 5 percent of the total fair market value of the estate.

There are some assets that are not included as part of the estate for purposes of executor compensation. These include money the deceased had on hand at the time of death; money held for the deceased in a checking, savings, or money market account; life insurance proceeds; and bequest payments made to beneficiaries. If the compensation required by state law is unreasonably low, Texas probate courts are allowed to pay the executor a fair amount.

Estate Expenses

As part of administering an estate, an executor is sure to incur some expenses along the way, such as the cost of selling or storing the deceased's personal property. For any ordinary costs that the executor incurs, they are entitled to reimbursement from the estate as long as the expenses were reasonable and necessary.

If an executor expends an unreasonable amount for a service or spends money on something that is not necessary for administering the estate, the heirs or beneficiaries may challenge the reimbursement. However, if their challenge is unsuccessful in court, the attorneys fees incurred by the executor are also a reimbursable expense.

Accepting the role as an executor is no small task. There are many responsibilities and potential liabilities that a person should know prior to accepting the job. Luckily, the state of Texas offers compensation to those who take on the work of executor.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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