Drafting a last will and testament can be a complicated and time-consuming task, which is why many people in Dallas prefer to have an experienced will attorney handle the work. If you’re thinking about going the do-it-yourself route, you’ll need to understand a few things – and one of the most important involves your choice of executor.
The executor or administrator of your will is the person who will carry out the instructions you’ve laid out in the legal document. As the position entails a great deal of responsibility, every state has rules regarding who can serve in this capacity. Here, the trusted Dallas will attorneys at Schultz and Kellar, PLLC, explain the requirements in Texas.
While the choice of who will manage your affairs after death is yours to make, the person you name does need to meet a few requirements. To serve as an executor in Texas, an individual must be:
In addition, Texas law requires that the executor of a will:
Figuring out if someone fits the description above is simple enough, but as any experienced Dallas will attorney could tell you, the Texas courts can determine that a person is unsuitable for the position of executor. Credible evidence of substance abuse or serious dishonesty are two reasons someone might be disqualified, but the courts have broad discretion.
Under Texas law, living in the state isn’t a requirement for a will executor. So, the person you place in the role doesn’t need to reside here – but if they live elsewhere, they must appoint an individual who lives in Texas as a resident agent, a local who can receive legal paperwork on behalf of the estate.
For practical reasons, Dallas will attorneys recommend choosing someone who lives in the area as your executor. The job may require them to handle legal and financial matters in person, and fulfilling the various duties may take weeks, months or even years. If the individual you trust most lives far away, you may want to make sure that they’re able to assume the role of executor.
In our experience as will attorneys, most people in the Dallas area name a spouse or adult child as executor. For those who are concerned about family disputes, an aunt, uncle, or trusted friend are common choices.
Whoever you’d like to have the position, you’ll want to consider whether they’re truly qualified. The individual you choose should be:
Also, since settling an estate can take a long time, choosing a beneficiary of your will – a person who will receive a portion of your assets – can be a good plan. If the executor has a financial interest, they’ll be more likely to make every effort to fulfill your final wishes. However, if you believe that this could lead to suspicion or squabbles with other beneficiaries, a Dallas will attorney might advise you to choose someone who is impartial.
Sharing the duties of managing an estate can make the process more difficult. As such, will attorneys generally recommend naming just one person rather than opting for co-executors. Going with the latter is allowed under Texas law, but we’d say that you should only ask two people to work together if you’re confident they can do so without any animosity.
However, you absolutely should designate at least two individuals to serve in the capacity of will executor. That way, if your first choice is deemed unsuitable for any reason, or if they’re unable to assume the role, you’ll still have someone you trust administering your estate.
What if you can’t find a friend or family member who can act as will executor or to be your backup choice? You’re certainly not alone – will attorneys see many Dallas residents who don’t have anyone suitable to name. But, that isn’t a problem. A local lawyer, financial advisor or accountant can manage your affairs in exchange for a fee derived from your estate. And if you’d like someone who is objective to be your executor, any of these professionals could take on the role.
As naming an executor is such an important decision, you’d be wise to consult with a local lawyer. At Schultz and Kellar, serving northern Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area, we’d be happy to offer advice and share our legal expertise.
For a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your situation with a friendly and knowledgeable Dallas will attorney, contact us today.
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