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August 2019 Archives

Johnny Cash's estate sues to stop use of famous names

In our last post, we wrote about the general fiduciary duties of executors and administrators in dealing with the assets of the decedent. Now, two of the most famous names in American show business are involved in an estate lawsuit brought by the trustee of a family trust that is intended to prohibit the use of those names. While the bar in question is located in Illinois, the names of the two singing stars involved in this lawsuit are known throughout Texas, and the legal basis of the lawsuit is based on laws that are the same in Texas as in Illinois.

Understanding the fiduciary duty of a personal representative

When a resident of Texas dies, the property of the decedent must be distributed to the decedent's heirs and beneficiaries according to state law. If the person dies with a will, the person who oversees the collection and distribution of the decedent's estate is called an executor. If a person dies without a will, the state will appoint a person called an administrator to oversee the liquidation of the decedent's estate. In both cases, the person who is put in charge of handling the estate is called a "personal representative," and that person owes a fiduciary duty to the estate and to the decedent's heirs and beneficiaries. But, what, exactly, is entailed in that fiduciary duty?

Debts and settling an estate

Many people who become executors are unpleasantly surprised to learn that creditors can continue to seek repayment after a person's death. It is not quite as bad as it might, however. Some debts will simply go unpaid after the debtor dies. Any outstanding debts that must be paid will be paid from the estate. If there are insufficient funds in the estate to pay off all the debt, the debt collectors typically cannot get all their money back.

Where do your debts go after you pass away?

Your loved ones may be expecting to inherit certain items from your estate. Perhaps you have antiques, real estate or other valuables that you hope to leave to your children to ease their burdens after you are gone. However, without careful planning, you may be leaving them your debt as well.

Choosing an executor for a Texas estate

Making a will can be a complex tax. The maker of the will must give considerable thought to who will be beneficiaries under the will, specific bequests of property, charitable donations and similar issues. One of the most important decisions is choosing an executor to carry out the instructions in the will. Many Texans wonder if there are rules or guidelines for choosing an executor. The answers to these questions depend in a large part on the nature of the estate.