Being asked to serve as the executor of someone's estate is a tremendous responsibility. Not only are you responsible for executing on a deceased person's wishes, but you also have the legal responsibility to fulfill the obligations of an executor under the laws of Texas. For someone who has never done something like this, this can be a shock to your system to find that you are morally obligated to act on this person that you have and legally obligated. It is assumed you will work with a great deal of care and responsibility towards this person on behalf of their beneficiaries under the will. However, sometimes an executor does not act following the choice.
In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss what happens when the executor of an estate purposely fails to follow through with their obligations under the will. It could be that this person disagrees with how the deceased has written the choice to distribute property to various beneficiaries at the expense of others. Forward, they may have plans to try and do something even worse with the property in the estate, such as stealing it. Whatever the case may be, today's blog post will shed some light on what you can do you find yourself in a situation where the executor of a loved one's will is not honoring they are moral in legal commitment to execute under the terms of choice.
What is the role of an executor about a will?
Before we go any further, this would seem to be a relevant question to answer. A will is the primary estate planning document you or I could create for ourselves. Drafting a will allows the world to know what our final wishes are in terms of how property that we own should be distributed. In my opinion, every person over the age of 18 should have a will. Whether you own a lot of property or not, this is the case. I will give instructions to your family and, specifically to an executor, on how to execute your wishes after your passing. This way, your family will not have any questions about proceeding and can concern themselves with remembering you.
Within the will, you will appoint someone to act as the executor. That is what we are here to discuss today. The executor of a will oversees filing the will for probate if necessary, distributing property to beneficiaries, and paying creditors if your loved one owes money to anyone. These financial and legal obligations can be significant depending upon the person's will in question. If you have been named as the executor of under-loved ones' choices and have accepted the position, you must know your role in the process and how to act if your loved one passes away appropriately.
Assuming that the will for your loved one is valid, this document should give the executor all the information they need to settle the estate, distribute property, and pay creditors. The key to having a valid will that is unlikely to be contested or misconstrued in court would be to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney can help you determine which planning methods suit you and your circumstances best while helping to use language within the will that cannot be misconstrued or challenged by anyone. this is free of charge consultation with the attorney's app. The law officer Brian Fagan can position you to know that you will be drafted correctly. Alternatively, suppose you have accepted a position as executor of another person's will and want to learn more about the probate process. In that case, one of our attorneys can also discuss matters like this with you.
All of this probably seems relatively straightforward at this point. I have laid out for your linear circumstances in terms of having a well-drafted, court determined that the will is valid and then not having any issues with the distribution of property or the paying off creditors. However, as we all know, sometimes life throws us a curveball, and our best-laid plans do not go as we had hoped. This is where we can get into a discussion about what happens if your loved one's executor does not follow the will precisely. In the title of today's blog post, I offered up the question of what would happen if the executor of the will refuses to sell a home. However, it doesn't have to be a home or a large property item that is not sold for there to be a problem during the process of distributing property or paying creditors. Issues like this can even arise if you choose to go through probate or probate becomes necessary.
All of this could be incredibly frustrating if you were looking on from the outside as someone who should be able to inherit property through the will. Imagine being in a position where you have been relying upon the assurance that a home would be willed to you. If you have children and need a residence, your loved ones passing may have been full of a silver lining on the dark cloud, given the assurance that this house would come along with the process. To find that the executor of your loved ones' will is refusing to abide by their legal obligation to fulfill your loved one's wishes can not only be frustrating but also damaging to your family.
In that case, you cannot sit idly by and expect anyone else 2 protect your rights. I have seen scenarios where executors who have not lived up to their end of the bargain as far as executing on a deceased person's wishes would delay settling an estate for years. Do not allow your family to be caught in the middle of any of these types of scenarios. Instead, you can learn from blog posts like this and the advice of experienced probate and estate planning attorneys, more importantly, how you can see to it that your rights are protected.
An executor is a fiduciary
A fiduciary is a legal term that refers to the obligation to put another person's interests ahead of your own. This is the highest legal obligation a person can have in our country. There is nothing wrong with acting in a self-interested manner. Every day, whether we know it or not, we operate in an intended way to benefit ourselves. However, once you accept the role of fiduciary all those changes. An executor is a perfect example of a fiduciary and what a fiduciary is supposed to be.
Under Texas law, the executor of a will must act in the best interest of the deceased person's estate and beneficiaries. This is combined with their obligation to follow the directives contained in the choice. If the fiduciary chooses not to follow the terms of a will, they are violating their responsibility under the will and breaking the law. If you or any other person has an interest under the choice as a beneficiary, then you have legal standing to challenge their actions in court.
Filing a petition with the probate court
If you believe that the executor of a loved one will not be following the directives contained in the document, you have the right, and some would argue the obligation to take legal action. If the will is already going through probate, you will need to petition the probate court. A petition is simply the legal method of bringing to the court's attention that you ask them to do something on your behalf. Intervening into an ongoing probate case is done frequently and can be assisted by an experienced estate planning or probate attorney.
On the other hand, if the will was not being probated and the executor refused to abide by the terms of choice on their own accord, you can still petition the court. However, now you would be demanding the court to administer your loved one's estate. To do this, you would need to consider two different ways to handle a circumstance involving an executor who refuses to follow the terms of a will.
The first would be to ask the court to require the executor to fulfill their duties under the will. As a beneficiary under the choice, you have the standing to ask the court to do this. With a new petition, you can ask the court to require the executor to do something or refrain from doing something specific. The estate's executor may have started on the right foot but is now dragging their feet and not completing the final steps in the settling process of the estate. The executor may have a reason for not moving forward as quickly as you would like. By filing a petition with the probate court, you are providing them with the opportunity to state their case to a judge. However, absent an excellent reason, they will be required to move forward with completing the probate process.
Alternatively, you can work with the court to have the executor removed from that role. Even if no backup executor is named in the will, you as a beneficiary can ask the court to have the executor removed. There are several reasons why an executor can be removed under Texas law. As an essential requirement, you must show that the executor is not or cannot fulfill their most basic legal responsibilities. Namely, if you have evidence that this executor is not willing or able to act as a fiduciary, then you will be in good shape. Proof that they have tried to steal money from the estate or otherwise work correctly, Woodley is an excellent place to start.
Without a doubt, it is more dramatic to have an executor removed from their role rather than to have them order to pursue settling the estate. In some circumstances, however, simply calling an executor to follow through with their responsibilities will not be possible. This is especially true if there is evidence of misconduct. Not understanding how to proceed is one thing period, however, when you have discovered purposeful Bad Axe on the part of an executor, then that is a different subject altogether. Remember that the legacy of your loved one, as well as the property that was promised to you, hangs in the balance if you choose not to act.
In what ways can a probate attorney help you when it comes to an ineffective executor?
All this information is good and well, but if you cannot take the information presented to you and use it to help yourself, then what good is the information in the first place? Instead, allow me to walk you through how simple probate again can help turn you to eliminate the worry of an ineffective or ill-intentioned executor. Hiring an attorney cannot solve all your problems in and of itself. However, when you have no place left to turn in are concerned about the well-being of yourself, your fellow beneficiaries, and the estate of your loved one, then an attorney can certainly help you.
The first thing that an experienced probate attorney can do is perform an analysis of your case. Bear in mind that your attorney will have the singular focus of looking at your claim with your best intentions in mind. As a result, their analysis will be thorough and based on their year experience events. Remember that even a well-intentioned person like yourself may miss essential factors in a case simply because you do not have the experience to analyze them as an attorney would. This may cause problems for you and your family, but it is not necessary to leave it to chance as far as reviewing the circumstances of the case. Instead, by working with an experienced family law attorney, you avail yourself to that attorney's experienced hand. You can rest easier knowing that the attorney will be able to work with you to perform a thorough examination of your circumstances.
Next, I can safely assume that you have questions about the subject matter contained in today's blog post. Otherwise, why would you be spending a good chunk of your day reading A blog post that has nothing to do with you or your circumstances? No matter how detailed I am in today's blog post or how clear I am in the language that I use, there is no way that I will be able to answer your specific questions. The reason being is that I don't know exactly what is going on in your life. With that said, one of our attorneys in a free-of-charge consultation can work with you to walk through your issues and determine what steps need to be taken at this time.
Next, our attorneys can help you investigate the actions of the executor of your loved ones to determine if any wrongdoing has occurred. We have seen that the range of outcomes for this type of analysis can be dramatic. You may be dealing with a person who doesn't know what they're doing and need a push to get going on the right track. In the alternative, you may have a situation where your loved ones are being taken advantage of by a person with evil intent. Either way, our attorneys can help guide you regardless of what is happening with the estate.
Finally, our attorneys are prepared to proceed to court, if necessary, to protect you and your interests as a beneficiary. Sometimes moving to probate court is the best or only option for you based on your circumstances. Without question, before you go to court, you want to make sure that all other options have been attempted and you and your family are comfortable with the following steps to be taken. Doing so with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney can give you peace of mind and can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful result in court.
Questions about the material presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed probate in estate planning attorneys offers free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas estate planning and probate law and also about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a will or other probate-related matter.