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Understanding the probate process

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2021 | Estate planning |

If a loved one dies with a will, you may be wondering what the next steps are. Probate refers to the process of managing and closing the estate and distributing assets as set out in the will.

An important figure in the probate process is the executor, as this is the individual given the task of carrying out the instructions in the will.

Role of the executor

According to the Travis County Probate Court, in most cases, an executor cannot file a probate application without an attorney present, unless the executor is a licensed attorney. The role of the executor does not start until the individual takes the oath of office and pays any required bond. These must occur within 20 days of the executor’s appointment.

Within 30 days of qualification, the executor must send out a general notice to all creditors. Within 60 days, this individual must send out certified letters to all secured creditors of the estate. These creditors, at any time the estate is open, may file a claim for payment of a debt, which the executor is in charge of paying from the estate. The executor must give notice to the beneficiaries named in the will, and this must occur within 60 days.

The executor must make a complete inventory list of the estate, including any debts owed to the estate. The executor must submit this list to the court within 90 days. Along with making a list, the executor must keep all personal property safe as well as keep real estate property maintained. The executor must open a separate account for all cash owed by the estate, and this account must be separate from all personal funds.

The executor is also in charge of paying filing tax returns and paying all taxes owed by the estate.

Closing of the estate

Once the executor has fulfilled all claims filed by creditors, has paid all other estate bills and filed the final tax return, it is time to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. The completion of these tasks, and upon advice from the attorney, represents the end of the executor’s responsibilities towards the estate.