When you create a last will and testament in Texas, it's customary to name an estate executor. Your executor, also called an estate administrator, is the person who handles how your estate gets settled and has specific powers, such as the ability to inventory and account for all estate property and the power to later dispose of that property.
One of the most important rights, and responsibilities, an executor has is the ability to collect and manage estate property. The executor has the right to collect all estate assets and have those assets transferred to the executor. To do this, the executor usually has to present her "Letters Testamentary," legal documents provided by the probate court that authorizes the executor to administer the estate and to dispose of estate property.
The executor is the only person who has the power to dispose of estate property. Apart from distributing that property to heirs or beneficiaries, the administrator must also use that property to pay any estate debts. In paying debts, the executor can open a bank account or money-market account, transfer estate funds to that account and then begin paying off debts once the money is transferred. The executor must also notify creditors he has opened the estate, usually by publicizing notice in a local newspaper.
Once the executor inventories and collects all estate assets, notifies creditors, pays off debts and complies with any other probate requirements, the executor can then begin distributing property to heirs. The executor has to ensure the desires the testator expressed in the will are met. If the court declares any part of the will invalid, the executor has to apply the laws of intestate succession to determine who gets the property.
While a testator can name anyone she chooses as the executor of her will, the named executor does not have any powers until the court approves the nomination. The court cannot appoint the executor until someone has filed a probate application with a Texas court and the court holds a hearing to determine who should act as executor. Because of this, you should begin the probate process as soon as possible following a testator's death. Talk with a qualified Texas probate attorney if you have questions or need legal advice about executors and wills in Texas.