When a loved one dies, the last thing on our minds is how his estate will be handled. Usually, however, the duty of probating a will falls to a family member. As hard as this may be, it’s something that has to be done. This is why most people rely on a Houston probate attorney to make the process a little easier.
When your loved one drafted his will, he listed someone to serve as his administrator or personal representative. This is usually the oldest child or may even be a sibling. Every now and then it can be a non-family member. However this is rare.
The person appointed administrator can refuse the job. If he’s not up for the job or if it’s just not feasible, he can ask the court to relieve him of this duty. But once someone starts the process, they’re under a duty to look out for the best interests of all the heirs.
One of the biggest complaints family members have when it comes to probate is about the administrator. Either they think he’s looking out for his own interests or he’s just not doing his job. Maybe he’s dragging his feet, causing him to miss deadlines. Or, maybe he’s not paying creditors the way he should. Either way, you may be unhappy with how he’s handling his duties as personal representative. If this happens, you do have some options.
The Texas probate laws allow for solutions to problems like these. Unfortunately, you can’t just handle these matters on a personal basis. You need to use the courts to get the administrator either replaced or forced to do his job.
Why Are You Unhappy with the Personal Representative?
If your waiting to resolve your parent’s estate, you have to rely on the executor or administrator. Probate is the process by which your loved one’s assets are distributed. It’s also the way that creditors of the estate get paid.
The estate planning and probate process can be confusing. If there is a will, it makes things a little easier. If your loved one died intestate (without a will) it can get a little messier.
The executor is responsible for making sure all debts are paid. He’s also supposed to make sure the assets go to the beneficiaries and heirs. He has to follow the wishes of the decedent. When this doesn’t happen, people get frustrated. Probate judges in Texas deal with more issues concerning the distribution of assets than anything else.
Some of the mistakes an executor may make include:
- He doesn’t pay the creditors on time
- He tries to sell property that is willed to an heir
- He spends cash from the decedent’s accounts
- He tries to sell assets for less than they’re worth
- He doesn’t communicate with the heirs or the creditors
- He attempts to take assets for himself that were designated for other heirs
Everything the administrator does is supposed to go through the probate court. If he receives life insurance proceeds, he needs to document this. If he sells a piece of real estate, he needs to submit the proceeds as an asset of the estate. The same thing is true if he liquidates any retirement accounts.
If you feel that the executor isn’t doing his job, you need to call a Houston probate attorney.
Can You Get a New Executor Appointed?
If the executor is not doing what they’re supposed to do, you have a few choices. You can have your Houston probate attorney talk to them and let them know people are complaining that they aren’t exercising due diligence. Or, you can file a petition with the court.
In your petition, you can ask the court to order or enjoin the administrator from doing certain things. Or, you can ask that a new administrator be appointed. Keep in mind, the courts don’t like to do this. They like to honor the wishes of the person who died. It takes a lot to prove that an executor isn’t fulfilling his or her duties.
You would have to show blatant disregard for the decedent’s wishes. Or, you’d have to show gross incompetence. Although it isn’t impossible to prove these things, it isn’t easy. You also need to remember that this person is probably a family member. You don’t want to make things anymore difficult for your family than they already are.