As an executor, you have fiduciary responsibilities that may see heavy scrutiny from several parties, such as benefactors and creditors. While you are not liable for the debts you administrate, there are still ways to open yourself up to liability.
Texas statutes highlight that an executor or administrator shall take care of estate property as a prudent person would. While that may seem vague, there are specifics to watch out for.
Breach of priority
Alongside all the property and accounts to manage, there is a matter of a decedent’s debts to handle. More importantly, there is an order in which to handle those debts. Creditors make estate claims and you have the responsibility to pay them in order of priority. Failure to do so in the correct order or in a proper timeline may result in those creditors suing you.
Breach of duty
As you manage the estate, any one of the beneficiaries may claim that you have failed to perform your duties through certain acts including:
- Not paying taxes in a timely manner
- Self-dealing by buying yourself something from the estate property
- Losing property by letting insurance lapse or through repossession
- Having a conflict of interest
- Making improper investment choices
This may not even be something you know you did. As an executor, you have a lot on your plate and there may be aspects of the probate process you are not familiar with. In these situations, it is useful to have the most information and guidance you can to help serve as a proper personal representative.