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Top Mistakes Executors Should Avoid During Texas Probate

 Posted on October 09, 2023 in Estate Planning and Administration

Hood County probate lawyerServing as executor of an estate in Texas comes with significant legal and financial obligations. Settling an estate through the probate process involves intricate steps and rigid deadlines that can easily overwhelm unprepared executors, which is why working with a Texas lawyer is ideal. Even the most competent executor can make simple but costly errors that lead to family disputes, tax penalties, lawsuits, and improper distributions.

Executor mistakes not only jeopardize the deceased’s final wishes, but also add stress at an already difficult time for loved ones. By understanding the most common pitfalls executors face, you can avoid these missteps and effectively carry out administrator duties.

Failing to Locate All Relevant Estate Planning Documents

Before any other step, the executor must collect and review the decedent’s core estate planning documents to identify beneficiaries, assets, debts, and distribution instructions. These important papers include the last will and testament, revocable living trusts, life insurance policies with specified beneficiaries, 401(k) plans and IRAs with named recipients, and any other materials impacting asset distribution. Missing or outdated documents can derail the entire probate administration process.

Paying Claims Without Proper Verification

As soon as a death becomes public, creditors will assert various financial claims against the estate. These alleged debts range from legitimate to fraudulent. As an administrator, it is crucial not to distribute any estate assets toward debts until an attorney formally validates each claim. Unless done properly, the estate may pay inflated or fake creditor claims while depriving rightful beneficiaries.

Prematurely Distributing Assets and Personal Property

Eager executors who give out estate assets prematurely often find themselves having to rescind those transactions later when problems arise. Texas probate law has specific processes for inventory, appraisals, creditor notices, and court approvals needed before any distribution. Acting too quickly leads to major complications.

Failing to Keep Meticulous Financial and Property Records

Executors are required to keep exhaustive records of all estate transactions, asset inventories, appraisals, income and expenses, and supporting documentation. When the court reviews an accounting, re-creating activity from memory is impossible. Insufficient records also impact taxes and distribution accuracy.

Missing Key Probate Deadlines

Texas probate follows a tight timeline with binding deadlines for filings like creditor notice, inventory, accounting, and taxes. Missing deadlines results in penalties, removal as executor, and estate assets getting locked down. Hiring a lawyer can help provide deadline guidance.

Contact a Hood County, TX Probate Attorney

Probate is not something you want to take chances on and experience the missteps as mentioned above. Working with a Tarrant County, TX probate lawyer can help if you want to go through the process effectively. Call Cain & Kiel Law at 817-645-1717 to get started on the process today.

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