When someone is crafting their will or creating a Houston estate plan, there are many critical decisions they must make. One of the most vital choices is who to serve as the estate’s executor. An executor of an estate is a person appointed to administer the estate of a deceased person, also called a testator. An executor has many tasks they must fulfill, both during the life of the testator, and after they have passed. Although there are many duties an executor must fulfill, it can often be a rewarding position.
What Are an Executor’s Duties?
An executor is responsible for ensuring the deceased’s assets are accounted for, as well as transferring the assets to the people listed in the will. Assets can include cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, or even personal collectibles. Before disbursing the inheritances to the estate’s heirs, the executor must also estimate the value of the estate and pay of all of the debts of the deceased, if they had any. An executor, before the death of the testator, should make sure the testator is keeping a list of assets and debts, properties, and any other relevant information. Overall, the primary duty of an executor is to carry out the wishes of the deceased based on the instructions in their will and estate plan.
Who Can Be An Executor?
There are very few restrictions with who can be an executor, except an executor must be over the age of 18 and have no prior felony convictions. While the executor can be a family member, it is usually recommended a lawyer or accountant take on the role, as there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into managing another person’s estate.
Can an Executor be Removed?
While most executors try their best to distribute the deceased’s assets and follow the indicated wishes, a court is able to remove an executor who is dishonest or grossly incompetent. In this situation, it is often up to the inheritors, also called beneficiaries, to go to probate court and prove to the judge that the executor should be removed. However, if an executor is making a good-faith effort to manage the estate, it is unlikely the court will remove the executor. A court may also remove an executor if there is a conflict of interest that would interfere with the administration of the estate. While it may seem that being a beneficiary would be a conflict, being both the executor and beneficiary is quite common.
Because there are a lot of technicalities and potential complications that arise while being an executor, individuals who have questions about the estate planning process should contact an experienced estate planning attorney who can help.
Are You in Need of Estate Planning Services?
If you are in need of an estate plan, or your Houston estate plan needs to be revised, contact the attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. Our skilled attorneys will take the time to review your options and ensure your estate plan needs are met. To schedule a risk-consultation and discuss your matter with a lawyer, call us today at 713-333-8900.