The Livens Law Firm

Avoiding common mistakes of an estate executor

Taking on the role of an estate executor may sound like an honor, but many in Texas soon learn that the job is far from glorious. While it is certainly humbling to find one trustworthy enough to handle one's final wishes, it is also time-consuming and can be frustrating. In addition, by taking on this responsibility, an estate executor may also face legal challenges regarding some of the common probate mistakes.

One of the duties of an estate executor is to make sure any bills and debts of the deceased are paid. However, some bills have higher priority than others. For example, if an executor quickly pays off credit cards or other bills that arrive in the mail, but neglects an overdue tax obligation, the executor may be held financially responsible for paying the tax debt if the assets in the estate cannot cover it.

If probate is prolonged, an executor may feel it is his or her responsibility to invest some of the assets to increase the value of the estate. This is risky, especially if the estate contains trusts which require a certain amount of funding from the estate assets. Should the investment decrease the value of the assets, the executor may be held liable for breach of fiduciary duty.

Executors may also be responsible for making decisions about the decedent's real estate. This can be tricky, especially if any of the heirs currently reside on the deceased's property or the home needs significant improvements to be saleable. Potential heirs may also feel it is their privilege to help themselves to certain assets from the estate. Securing and protecting the assets throughout probate is of chief importance for the executor.

Dealing with the details and potential legal ramifications of being an estate executor can be intimidating. However, those chosen for this honor can seek assistance and advice from an estate planning attorney. Along with sound guidance, a Texas attorney can represent the executor should any legal disputes arise during probate.

Source: marketwatch.com, "The biggest mistakes executors make", Veronica Dagher, Accessed on July 22, 2017

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