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Executor Support & Estate Organization
Frequently Asked Questions

General

The average executorship – exclusive of legal, tax, and accounting work – is about 570 hours of work according to an EstateExec database of executor work. We seek to reduce that time by at least 25%. Of the remaining 75% of the work to do, our goal is to take a significant majority off of your plate and free up your time for family, your own professional work, and peace of mind.
How do we do this? We use focus, attention to detail, process orientation, our network of related service providers, and strong relationship skills. See our FAQs on “Estate Organization.”
It depends. It requires extreme organization, attention to detail, strong relational skills, and enough time (much of it during business hours) to get the job accomplished. If paperwork, accounting, and project management are your strong suits, you will likely experience less frustration than someone who does not enjoy that type of work. However, all estates do face unforeseen challenges, so some frustration along the way is to be expected. Our executor assistants are trained to anticipate and mitigate those challenges.
Yes, definitely. It’s harder to meet in person, the court systems are slower, and many service providers are understaffed and/or overwhelmed with work. Our job is to keep navigating all the uncertainty with productivity at the top of our minds.
Each executor assistant is knowledgeable in estate and trust administration. We have three non-negotiable hiring criteria, including:
  • High Character and Integrity
  • Strong Project Management Skills
  • Excellent Relationship Skills
Each executor assistant is supervised by a manager with an MBA in project management and training in communications and servant leadership.

Estate Organization

The executor administers the estate, which is the responsibility to carry out the deceased’s wishes. This includes following any orders or requirements typically outlined in a will or trust.
Estate organization is important because it gives your executor a head start on closing your estate, saving time and expense. We help organize all those documents, statements, and passwords, so everything they need is at their fingertips

Without a will or estate plan, property and assets in your name are considered “probate assets”. They are subject to probate and distribution under the laws of intestate succession.

In Texas, the law defines how the estate will be distributed under the Texas Probate Code. Texas law will determine whether your estate is separate property or community property. Typically, assets and property acquired while married goes to the living spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, assets may go to any living children or next of kin. While there are other scenarios, it is best to seek the legal advice of a lawyer who specializes in estate planning or wills and testaments.

Executor Support

The vast majority of executors are not lawyers, though they use lawyers. We will only work on an estate where we have access to your lawyer. If you don’t yet have one, we can help you with referrals.

We can also refer you to other professionals, as appropriate, for the following:

  • Tax advisors
  • Bookkeepers
  • Realtors
  • Investment Advisors

We can help you serve as the “general contractor” of all these services. However, we seek to help you use these professionals judiciously, further saving on total fees.

No. You are still in the “driver’s seat,” serving as executor to your loved one or friend whom you agreed to serve. Executor Support simply comes alongside to support you in your fiduciary duties.

These are some of the most common mistakes, which we prioritize helping you avoid:
  • Not being prepared to begin the process
  • Not keeping communication open with all parties involved
  • Choosing friends over professional help
  • Waiting too long or failing to act
  • Trying to make the estate more profitable
  • Improperly advertising the estate to creditors
  • Improperly paying claims
  • Improperly closing the estate
  • Not staying organized
  • Not following the court’s instructions, keeping detailed records (time and expenses), and filing documents timely
  • Forgetting you are legally a fiduciary and have personal liability
  • Not hiring appropriate counsel at a reasonable, negotiated fee
  • Confusing probate and non-probate property
  • Failing to give legally required notices, e.g., with heirs
  • Not appraising and paying tax on property or income
  • Not understanding and following the terms of the will
  • Improperly allocating income between the decedents and the estate’s income tax returns
  • Improperly allocating the tax burden among beneficiaries
  • Making early distributions that expose you to personal liability

According to one survey, 44% of families experience major conflict around a will, even families that have a track record of “getting along.” This is understandable when you consider that family members are grieving, may have different timelines or objectives, and may be surprised by some aspects of the will.

We can’t change other people’s reactions nor fix previously strained relationships. But we can enter as a positive, caring, and neutral third-party assistance to the executor process. Remember that while we intend to distribute the estate to beneficiaries based on the deceased’s wishes, we are here to serve you as executor because you are the client.

It’s always best if we can engage before the testator passes. However, we will do our best to help organize all the records and research missing pieces of information. We expect there to be a certain degree of chaos. That’s what we’re here for.
Costs are generally covered by the estate.