When someone dies in Texas, their estate will typically require work from an executor, which Texas code refers to as the personal representative of the estate. As the representative of a Texas estate, you have to meet certain criteria to take on the role in the first place and will need to fulfill certain crucial tasks.
Failing to follow the correct steps during estate administration can lead to legal and financial liability for you, as well as strain on your relationship with the beneficiaries of the estate. What are some of the most important steps that you will take as the representative of the estate?
Locate the most recent estate plan
To appropriately fulfill someone’s last wishes, you will need to review the documents that they left behind explaining those wishes.
Finding the most recent estate plan or will created by the deceased person will help you fulfill their last wishes regarding their property and the care of the people who depend on them. Providing copies of those documents to beneficiaries and family members can reduce conflict regarding the steps that you take later.
Secure and properly manage property
Probate administration isn’t just about handing out someone’s property, but asset distribution is one of the most important roles you will fulfill. You need to locate and secure assets early in estate administration so that they don’t get lost or stolen.
Some of the most valuable assets, like financial investments or real estate, may require management until you reach the point in the probate process where you can liquidate or distribute those assets to others. Getting the right support so that you maximize what the property is worth instead of unintentionally reducing its value will be important.
Notifying and repaying creditors
Before you can hand out any of those belongings to the family members or beneficiaries, you will first need to set all of someone’s financial obligations. From paying their final hospital bills and credit card balances to turning off utility accounts in their name, it will be your responsibility to settle their financial affairs before giving assets from the estate to anyone in the family.
Keep thorough records of every step you take
From the locksmith you paid to change the deadbolts at someone’s home to the thousands of dollars spent paying creditors, you will need records of how you’ve distributed assets from the estate. In a situation where family members accuse you of misconduct or mismanaging estate resources, your records pertaining to account settlement and property distribution can help you defend yourself and preserve your role as the representative of the estate.
Knowing the right steps to take during estate administration will reduce the chances that conflict will arise and make the process less time-consuming and expensive.