When an individual dies in Texas with assets in their name, an executor will be responsible for overseeing the probate process. The executor can be anyone who is a legal adult of sound mind, and this person must make decisions that are in the best interest of the estate itself. If there is reason to believe that this isn’t happening, it may be possible to take legal action.
A breach of fiduciary duty
There are several instances when an executor may be making decisions that aren’t in the best interest of the estate. For example, making investment decisions that benefit the executor instead of the beneficiaries may constitute such a breach. If assets are distributed before a probate judge says that can happen, an executor may be vulnerable to probate litigation initiated by a beneficiary. Finally, if property is not secured or is lost at any point during probate, that is unlikely to be in the best interest of the estate.
Creditors may also take legal action
Failing to properly evaluate creditor claims can also result in legal action against an executor. Typically, valid creditor claims must be paid out of estate funds before any assets can be distributed. If necessary, assets may need to be liquidated to pay an outstanding credit card, cellphone or medical bill. Estate funds must also be used to pay any state or federal taxes owed.
Honest mistakes may be overlooked
In most cases, an honest mistake won’t result in financial or other penalties. For instance, if you were unable to secure your father’s second home three states over, you may be given a pass. The same might be true if the estate loses money in the stock market because of an unforeseen economic downturn.
You can make your executor’s job easier by leaving clear instructions regarding your final wishes. It is also important to choose someone who can follow instructions and has the time and capacity to carry out the many tasks an executor must complete following your passing.