When a Texas estate is in probate, the probate court appoints an executor to oversee the administration of the estate. If there was a will, the testator (person writing the will) typically names the executor when estate planning.
If the testator did not have a will, the court appoints an administrator to oversee the assets of the estate. Texas law deems it reasonable for an executor to charge a fee for their services. Rules regarding executors’ fees are found in the Texas Estates Code.
What Is an Executor of an Estate in Texas?
An executor is a personal representative who controls the administration of the estate after someone dies. This person is typically named by the decedent if they left a will, and if they didn’t name someone or didn't leave a will, the probate court will appoint an individual known as an administrator.
A personal representative of an estate may be a loved one, such as a spouse, an adult child, or another close family member.
Requirements to Be an Executor
Before the executor of an estate is named, Texas law requires they meet certain requirements. They must:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be of sound mind.
- Not have a felony conviction.
- Not have a conflict of interest.
If the executor does not live in the state, they’ll need to appoint a resident agent who will act on behalf of the estate in Texas. Corporations can also serve as executors to estates as long as they are authorized to act as fiduciaries in Texas.
Executor’s Duties in Probate Administration
The executor of an estate has a number of duties to fulfill while overseeing the decedent's estate. These responsibilities include:
- Locating and notifying all of the estate's beneficiaries.
- Giving notice to the decedent’s creditors.
- Identifying, collecting and gathering estate assets.
- Maintaining and protecting the decedent’s assets.
- Paying the deceased's debts.
- Preparing and filing the decedent’s tax returns.
- Keeping a record of all of the estate assets and payments made by the estate.
- Distributing the assets according to the deceased’s will.
Texas Executor Compensation
Per Texas state law, an executor is entitled to up to 5 percent of the estate’s assets. However, this does not include some assets, such as cash held in the decedent’s checking account or savings account.
The court can allow an executor reasonable additional compensation for their services if they manage a business of the estate, including a farm, ranch, factory, and the statutory compensation is unreasonably low.
If an executor believes that the 5 percent payment is too low for the amount of responsibility they’ve taken on for the probate process, they can petition the probate court for a larger amount. The 5 percent payment automatically goes into effect if the testator makes no mention of paying the executor or there was no will. A testator may set compensation for the executor in their will and the probate court will honor that amount.
- Texas Estates Code: Estates Code Title 2 Estates of Decedents; Durable Powers of Attorney Chapter 352 Compensation and Expenses of Personal Representatives and Others
- What Are an Executor’s Duties to an Estate in Texas?
- Legal Beagle: How to Probate an Estate With No Will in Texas
- Legal Beagle: How to Find a Probated Will in Texas
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.