Regardless of whether someone crafted a legally-enforceable estate plan while they were alive, after they’re gone, their affairs need to be put in order. This is, in a nutshell, the job of an estate administrator. Generally, as part of the Texas probate process, an estate administrator settles a deceased individual’s debts and distributes their property.
If an individual dies with an enforceable estate plan in place, their estate administrator is generally empowered to distribute assets according to the deceased individual’s wishes once priority debts have been paid. If an individual dies without an estate plan in place, an estate administrator is bound to observe the property distribution rules detailed in the Texas Code.
Why choosing a responsible administrator is important
Navigating probate in Texas isn’t an easy or straightforward undertaking. As a result, you’ll want to name someone to serve as your estate administrator who is truly up to the challenge. Before designating anyone to serve in this role on your behalf, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the candidate capable of settling multiple debts, closing accounts and distributing assets?
- Is the candidate level-headed and unlikely to be moved if emotional loved ones struggle to accept what they’ve been gifted (or what they haven’t been gifted)?
- Is the candidate responsible, timely and likely to honor your wishes?
By thinking critically about the tasks that an estate administrator is bound to undertake and the discretion with which they must accomplish these tasks, you’ll likely be able to narrow your list of candidates down considerably. Not many people know a lot of smart, discreet, compassionate, level-headed people who are also excellent communicators.
This is a consequential decision, so don’t approach it lightly. By taking the time to name someone who is both up for the task at hand and who would be willing to assume that responsibility, you can better ensure that your wishes are honored once you’re gone.