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.
Texas has no specific rules for choosing an executor, although minor children, a convicted felon or a non-U.S. citizen are specifically prohibited from serving as an executor. An examination of the executor’s duties provides significant guidance. Executors have four principal tasks: gathering the testator’s assets, paying bills, distributing the assets of the estate according to the testator’s instructions and paying the expenses of administration. The executor may also be required to hire professionals, such as attorneys or accountants, to assist in administering the will. For small estates, the duties of the executor are not extensive. The most difficult task is the distribution of assets, land even that job may not be too complex. Larger estates may require far more attention.
An estate that comprises stocks, real estate, a large amount of cash and one or more operating businesses can require special knowledge to guard against wasting of assets. In such cases, the testator may wish to consider appointing an attorney or the trust department at a bank as the executor. The testator may also wish to name a paid executor to avoid creating a conflict of interest by appointing a beneficiary of the will as the executor.
Generally, the principal rule for choosing an executor is to select a person who is trustworthy. This person can be a spouse, another family member, a close friend or a professional administrator. If the estate requires management of significant assets, the executor should be someone with the requisite training and experience in asset management. One further rule – the testator must obtain the consent of the prospective executor before naming that person in the will.