What Are the Duties of an Executor During Probate?
Losing a loved one is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging experiences. In addition to the emotional toll of the death, there are practical matters that need attention. When an individual passes away, the legal process of probate often comes into play, and a key player in this process is the executor.
Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s will, where their assets are distributed and debts are settled. The court oversees this process to ensure that the deceased person’s wishes, as outlined in their will, are carried out appropriately. The executor, named in the will, is tasked with managing and facilitating the probate process. They have many duties, which include:
- Probate filing — The executor must file the will with the local probate court. This initiates the legal process and allows the court to validate the will. Once accepted, the court provides the executor with the legal authority to administer the estate.
- Locating and securing assets — An executor must identify and safeguard the deceased person’s assets. This includes property, bank accounts, investments and personal belongings. Taking an inventory and securing these assets is crucial to prevent any loss or damage during the probate process.
- Notifying creditors and settling debts — Creditors must be notified of the deceased person’s passing and executors must also settle any outstanding debts. This involves reviewing and validating creditor claims and using estate funds to pay off legitimate debts. Proper management of this aspect ensures that the deceased’s estate is distributed fairly.
- Managing finances — The executor must open a separate bank account for the estate and manage the financial aspects of the deceased person’s affairs. This includes paying ongoing bills, taxes and any necessary expenses related to the estate.
- Distribution of assets — All remaining assets go to those named in the will once the debts are paid off, and the executor must make sure of this. This involves following the instructions outlined in the will and obtaining court approval for the final distribution.
- Tax filings — Executors have to file the deceased person’s final income tax return and, if needed, the estate tax return.
Throughout the entire probate process, the executor is expected to communicate transparently with the beneficiaries. This includes providing regular updates on the progress of the estate administration and addressing any concerns or questions they may have.
Being an executor during probate is a significant responsibility that requires attention to detail, organization and a thorough understanding of legal and financial matters. While it can be a challenging role, it is essential for ensuring that the deceased person’s wishes are fulfilled and their estate is distributed in accordance with the law. If you have been asked to serve as an estate’s executor, reach out to an experienced probate attorney today for help navigating the process.
Located in Plano, the Law Offices of Kevan I. Benkowitz helps clients navigate the various executor duties so that they can avoid legal disputes. For help from a Texas law firm that has been serving clients for over 15 years, call 972-464-2645 or contact us online today.