Executor Help

Help for Executors

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Executors face many tough questions. In many counties in Texas, including here in Collin County, an attorney is required to help probate the estate of a deceased person. The executor (called a personal representative in some states) is the person named in a will or appointed by a court to wrap up a person’s financial affairs after their death. Basically, this includes taking care of property, paying bills and taxes, and seeing that assets are transferred to their new rightful owners.

At Willingham Law Firm, PC., we realize that many people who are named executors have little to no experience in this role, and may feel overwhelmed. This is particularly true because certain mistakes may carry legal consequences for the executor. When you retain our firm, our McKinney probate attorneys can provide the experienced guidance and legal representation you need throughout the probate process.

Step 1: Locate the Will

If a deceased person has left a will, it is the duty of the executor to present the Will to the court. An executor does not have to serve as an executor but he must relinquish the will. One of the biggest concerns is find a will. A will can be hidden in a lot of places. One unusual place is the freezer. Many years ago attorneys encouraged people to leave their will in their freezer wrapped in multiple plastic bags. In any event, the first step is to locate a will. If no will is found, then see a Probate Attorney for assistance.

Step 2: Secure Property

The biggest theft in this country happens upon the death of a person. Family members believe that they have a right to the property in the estate. Children and other family members will ransack a home with little to know thought about the deceased person wishes to the distribution of the property. Many people don’t understand that the beneficiaries might not see any of the testator’s property. Creditors are first priority and should be paid first.

Step 3: Locate Property

Some people are very private, and it can be difficult to know where their property is located. Billions of dollars of life insurance has never been claimed because children or loved ones didn’t know about the policies. A good place to check for life insurance or other property is bank statements, as these documents can often help you locate what you need.

Step 4: Get Appointed as the Executor

A will by itself does not appoint a person as an executor. A Judge must approve the will after it has been “proven up” by the court. This is the part where an executor might be in trouble of acting as an attorney. Drafting legal documents for an estate constitutes the practice of law. For this reason, it is best to hire a skilled McKinney probate lawyer to assist with this function.

Overwhelmed by the probate process? Call our firm today for your case evaluation.

Step 5: Letters of Administration

We still use old terms in law to refer to certain things. One thing that has not changed is “Letters of Administration,” which are pieces of paper which state that you are authorized to act in the place of a deceased person. For example, in order to deed a property to another person, the owner must sign the deed. If the owner no longer is alive, an executor will be established and will be given letters of administration to act in the place of the deceased person.

Step 6: Pay Creditors

An executor is responsible to pay off all creditors before paying the beneficiaries. Many times creditors will negotiate and settle claims for pennies on the dollar when a person is deceased. It can be very beneficial to hire a knowledgeable McKinney probate attorney to assist in this negotiation process.

Step 7: Distribute the Money

Once the previous steps have been completed, all that’s left is to distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. This isn't as simple as it seems, as there are regulations and processes you must follow. Consult with your probate lawyer for guidance through this step.

Our firm has handled probate cases for nearly a decade. For skilled legal representation, contact our firm today.


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