In an ideal world, probate would go smoothly in every case, and a decedent’s loved ones would always be confident that their inheritance is being handled professionally and well. In reality, however, there can be problems that come up during probate. One such problem, which is rare but severe when it does happen, is when an executor fails to initiate the probate process. On today’s blog, we cover some of the implications of this failure, as well as a few options available to those who have found themselves in this unfortunate situation.
One of the first (and perhaps most obvious) issues that arises from an executor failing to start probate is that the decedent’s assets do not transfer to his or her heirs. Through probate, a court decides that an individual’s will is valid, and the court authorizes the distribution of the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. Without this process, the assets get stuck, and the heirs are unable to receive their share of the estate.
Similarly, debts fail to get resolved if an executor does not start probate. This means that debtors can still pursue the decedent’s money and property, even going so far as to sue those with access to the decedent’s assets. A decedent’s estate will also continue to be responsible for recurring payments, such as property taxes, if probate has not begun. These costs can add up over time, taking away from the inheritance that beneficiaries will eventually receive once probate does get underway.
The executor can be personally liable if he or she fails to start probate. The beneficiaries have the right to sue the executor, and he or she could even be in contempt of court (and thus face sanctions directly from the court) by failing to take the necessary steps.
If you have found yourself in a situation where an executor has neglected to start probate for a loved one, contact a qualified estate planning attorney today. You have options: you could sue the executor, you could ask the probate court to get involved, or you could request an entirely new executor. At the end of the day, it is crucial to appoint an executor that you trust, so that you can be confident your assets are in good hands.
Do You Have a Probate Attorney in Texas?
If you have not yet made plans for your estate, or if you are undergoing the probate process, give our office a call at McCulloch & Miller. We are committed to providing empathetic, efficient representation for our clients in the Houston area, and we keep your needs and goals at the forefront of our strategy. Our team of estate planning attorneys offers you peace of mind when you need it the most.
To set up a consultation with a member of our team, call us today at 713-597-7176. You can also fill out our online form, and an attorney will reach out to talk with you about the details of your case.