Administer an Estate or Trust with Confidence
It can be both an honor and a daunting responsibility to take an estate through probate or administer a trust. If you are in this position, be encouraged by the knowledge that millions of individuals and families have successfully gotten through the process that you are now facing.
You may be a personal representative – an executor or administrator of an estate – or a trustee charged with administering a trust lawfully and efficiently. At Flournoy McLain, P.C., our attorneys are ready to guide you through each step with dual priorities of both accuracy and timeliness.
Be a Well-Informed Executor or Estate Administrator
We are here to help you execute a will or to proceed through an intestate situation (when there is no will) as an estate administrator with these objectives:
- Fulfilling your duties lawfully
- Protecting yourself from potential accusations of breach of fiduciary duty
- Progressing through each stage of the process with confidence and clear direction
- Addressing any controversies or difficulties that could lead to a will contest or estate litigation of any kind
- As needed, managing ancillary administration when the decedent resided in Texas and owned property in another state or country, possibly on behalf of heirs or beneficiaries, executors, or administrators who live outside of Texas
We cannot overstate how important it can be to have an attorney’s help as you prepare to fulfill the role of an executor or personal representative.
Guidance and Representation of Trustees
Administering a trust may be simple or complex. No matter how straightforward it may seem, legal counsel is vital.
As a trustee, you should protect yourself from potential claims of impropriety or challenges from creditors or others who believe they have the standing to pursue assets of an estate, including those that have been deeded to a trust.
Get Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
We are available to answer your questions such as these while you are preparing to fulfill the duties of an executor or trustee, or if you are a beneficiary or creditor with questions about an estate.
What is a personal representative in Texas probate court?
The personal representative is the executor or administrator approved or appointed by the probate court to execute the will or administer an estate without a will.
What are the duties of a trustee?
The subchapter of the property code in Texas statutes that addresses the powers of a trustee is almost 10,000 words long. This verbose explanation reflects the complexity and specificity of the duties of a trustee. In a nutshell, the trustee’s duties will largely depend on what types of property are to be managed and distributed.
While managing the assets in a trust, the trustee should act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Typical duties include notifying beneficiaries of a death, inventorying assets in the trust, transferring property into the trust as needed, filing final tax returns if appropriate and distributing assets according to the provisions of the trust.
The trustee must prioritize the interests of the beneficiaries of a trust. The trustee should not profit from their role but may be appropriately compensated through a fee from the trust. The trustee should make decisions and approve steps in trust administration, although they may consult with experts and/or delegate responsibilities.
What is ancillary probate?
The brief narrative that follows here is a simplified description of ancillary probate with Texas as an example.
When someone who owned property in another state or country dies (and owned property) in Texas, the legal process of transferring the title and ownership of that out-of-state or foreign property to beneficiaries or heirs is referred to as ancillary probate. Alternatively, if someone who owned property in Texas dies while living out of state or in a foreign country, ancillary probate enables a probate court to transfer its title accordingly.
With an experienced attorney to guide you, administering an estate may be straightforward even when it includes property in Texas owned by someone who lived elsewhere or property elsewhere belonging to someone who lived in Texas.
How is an estate handled if there is no will?
A close relative or someone else may petition the probate court to be named the administrator after an intestate death, or all heirs may select one unanimously. Once the probate court appoints an executor, that person will almost surely need representation and guidance in estate administration. Disputes possibly leading to estate litigation may arise between purported beneficiaries even without a will in the picture.
Some assets may be distributed without complications even when there is no will, For example, retirement accounts and life insurance policies that name beneficiaries only require direct claims from those beneficiaries or they may even be paid out automatically. Other assets, such as real estate, bank accounts and personal property, will need to go through probate. State law addresses who will inherit property in these cases.
Schedule a Consultation for Guidance Administering an Estate or Trust
Estate or trust administration may seem scary at first, but it does not need to be so. If you are worried about costs, keep in mind that the estate or trust likely includes necessary funding. Learn about your duties, such as accounting and distribution of property, with the help of an estate lawyer at Flournoy McLain, P.C.