Those in Texas who are named estate executors or administrators might wonder what their duties are. An executor is responsible for paying taxes and debts, identifying assets and distributing those assets to beneficiaries. There may be other duties as well. The tasks can be daunting, but an executor is permitted to work with an attorney or other professionals if necessary.
One way to manage the responsibility is strong communication while the person who owns the estate is still alive. This includes knowing where legal documents and other important paperwork is located, having contact information for professionals associated with the estate, and knowing what is actually in the estate plan. Depending upon the age of the person, this could mean a years- or decades-long conversation about finances and the estate.
When a loved one has died, the executor will need to submit the will to the court so that it can go through the probate process. The executor should also keep in mind that it will likely be necessary to perform these duties while dealing with personal grief and the grief of the beneficiaries.
In addition to the assistance a lawyer may be able to offer with straightforward issues regarding estate administration and probate, an attorney might also be helpful if the issue becomes more complex. There are a number of problems that can arise in dealing with an estate ranging from beneficiaries' accusations that the executor is mismanaging the estate, to contesting elements or the entirety of the estate plan. Beneficiaries might feel that an executor is not handling the estate in a way that is financially responsible and in accordance with the wishes of the person who passed away. There might also be questions regarding whether the person was coerced into making changes to documents or whether there are contradictions in documents, such as beneficiary designations that do not reflect the wishes expressed in a will or trust.