The majority of people believe that after they attend the hearing appointing them as Executor or Executrixes of an Estate, the responsibility of the Executor ceases with receiving the Letters of Testamentary. The responsibility simply begins with swearing in the Administrator, and the legal responsibility of administering the Estate officially commences.
One of the responsibilities of the Executor is to notify all of the heirs that are to be a recipient of the Estate. This task alone can prove to be difficult at times when families drift apart through the years; however, the Executor has a fiduciary duty to notify all heirs at law and may even have to post an announcement in the local newspaper.
After notifying all heirs and providing them with copies of the will if there is one, the Executor then has to notify all of the creditors of the Estate by official publication. Once notice has been published, the Executor will likely then begin to negotiate the outstanding bills that are against the Estate. With the assistance of an attorney, the debtors are more than likely able to accept a reduction of the balance owed by the Decedent. The attorney negotiates on behalf of the Executor and has to keep a record of all funds paid on behalf of the Estate. The Executor has the final approval and must authorize payments to all creditors. The attorney then must keep a ledger of all payments made and include them within the Inventory for the Court’s approval.
With the help of an attorney, the Executor then must complete an Inventory, Appraisement and list of Claims due and owing for the Estate. The executor must Inventory all items of the Estate, including real property and even personal items of the Decedent. Most Estates allow one to waive an appraisal; however the Executor is responsible for inventorying the entire Estate. The purpose of this is to obtain the total value of the Estate so that the funds can be distributed to the heirs at law or the heirs that are listed within the Decedent’s last will and testament.
Once the Inventory has been investigated and approved by the Judge, the Judge will then sign the Order Approving the Inventory. After this occurs, the Executor then has the ability to begin distribution of the Estate. The Executor must provide the beneficiaries with copies of the Inventory and have the attorney draft receipts for the division of either property or funds that the beneficiary is to receive. All beneficiaries must sign for the acceptance of funds in order to relinquish the Executor from their duties.
After all funds have been distributed and the receipts have been filed with the Courts, the Executor may now file to close the Estate. In order to officially close the Estate, all receipts for division of property must be filed, and all beneficiaries must receive Notice of Closing the Estate. The beneficiaries must sign a receipt of receiving Notice and relinquish the Executor from the Estate. If all notices and receipts have been filed accordingly to the Estates Code, then the Estate will officially close within 30 days after the last filing has been submitted.
The Executor is bound by the Courts and obligated to fulfill all duties of the Estate. If the Executor does not comply accordingly, then a dispute or a contest can arise from lack of maintaining the fiduciary duty to the Estate. The Executor must distribute all assets in accordance to the Last Will and Testament; if they do not, then they are subject to removal as the Executor and can even have a lawsuit filed against them for misconduct or even fraud.
For more information on estate planning, contact an Arlington Tx estate planning lawyer or a lawyer near you today.
Thanks to our friend and blog author, Brandy Austin of Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, for her insight into the responsibilities of an executor.