Rules for executors of Texas estates

5 min read

If you’re the executor of an estate in Texas

  • Executors in Texas must be a state resident who is at least 18 years old with no criminal record.

  • Posting an executor bond is a requirement for almost all executors. Its amount is tied to the value of the estate.

  • Unlike many other states, requires executors to hire an attorney, in almost all cases.

  • As compensation for their work, executors receive a commission of 5% on all amounts the executor receives or pays out in cash in the administration of the estate.

If your loved one passed away in Texas and you are named the executor, it will be important to familiarize yourself with the rules for executors in Texas.

In Texas, when a loved one names you as executor of their estate in their will, there are a number of rules you need to be aware of so you can live up to this solemn responsibility.

Not only does Texas require you to pay an executor bond to ensure that you act in a financially responsible way, in some cases you may need to hire an attorney to complete some of the steps of probate. Finally, it’s important to note that Texas generally does not allow out-of-state executors.

While Texas states that an executor has four years from the date of death to file for probate, it is advisable to get it done as soon as possible so that beneficiaries can assume ownership of your loved one’s assets.

Once probate is initiated, a simple estate in Texas can theoretically be probated within six months, if everything goes smoothly. And a simple estate with no debt can be completed in 30 days.

However, you should always be prepared for unexpected bumps in the road that could delay the process. If there is no will or it is contested, or if there are disagreements between family members that require court intervention, the process can take much longer than six months.

Understanding your role and the rules you are subject to is a crucial step toward solving any potential problems you’ll encounter.

Who can be an executor in Texas?

As in other states, the executor is usually a close relative of the deceased. Any person who is 18 or older, of sound mind, and without a criminal record, can be the executor.

If the executor is not a Texas resident, they can still be executor, but they must appoint someone who lives in Texas to receive legal paperwork on behalf of the estate. For practical reasons, though, it’s best to avoid this scenario. 

How much do executor bonds cost?

Executor bonds are required by Texas probate courts as a guarantee to ensure that the estate’s debts will be paid and all assets will be properly distributed.

Rare exceptions to this mandate include: if the will explicitly states that no bond or insurance be required from the executor, or if the personal representative is a corporate fiduciary.

The court determines the bond amount based on the total value of the estate, and the bond premiums are calculated at one-half percent (0.5%) of this total value. This is equal to, for example, $500 for every $100,000 of the estate’s assets. It can be tricky to find the lowest premium rate for bonds, so people normally work with their lawyer to secure probate bonds. 

Do you need a lawyer for probate in Texas?

In Texas, it’s almost always required to hire an attorney if you’ve been named executor. Although it’s not legally mandated under the Texas state probate law, most courts will require an executor to be represented by an attorney, with few exceptions—even in the case of independent administration.

For example, if the executor is the sole beneficiary of the estate, it may be possible for the executor to settle the estate without legal representation. Again, this is the exception, and most probate courts will require you to hire an attorney.

Although it’s not legally mandated under the Texas state probate law, most courts will require an executor to be represented by an attorney, with few exceptions.

Hiring a professional will also ensure that the probate process goes smoothly, relieving stress for you and your family. And in terms of the financial cost an attorney, the funds to pay them come out of the estate. 

How much do executors get paid in Texas?

The executor is also entitled to compensation for their work. Under Texas law, an executor receives 5% of the estate’s total financial transactions. For example, for an estate worth $250,000, the executor will be paid up to $12,500 for administering the estate.

However, 5% is a state benchmark that is used if no mention of compensation is made in the will, or if no will was made. If your loved one detailed another amount of executor pay in their will, then Texas court typically will uphold that amount.

If they did not specify an amount in their will and you find that 5% is too low for the amount of work required, you can also petition the court for higher compensation.

Can executors be replaced?

Ideally, the person named executor in the will is able and willing to fulfill the role honestly and efficiently with the help of an attorney. But this does not always happen.

Under Texas law, an executor can be removed for misconduct or mismanagement of the estate’s assets. Examples include:

• Failing to file an inventory of the estate’s assets within 90 days of receiving letters testamentary

• Failing to provide adequate accounting

• Misappropriating the estate’s funds

• Having any apparent conflict of interest with the estate

If the heirs feel that the executor has acted inappropriately in any of these ways, they can seek legal counsel to discuss their options. If necessary, the probate court can legally remove the executor and appoint a new one. 

Does Texas allow co-executors?

As in other states, it is possible to have multiple executors in Texas. For example, a parent might name two siblings to serve as co-executors together.

However, if this is the case, it is up to you and your co-executor to decide whether you want to take on the challenge of the executor role together. It often leaves less room for confusion and disagreement if one person takes on executor responsibilities instead of two.

In Texas, if two co-executors have been named, the actions of either one are considered valid—in the eyes of the court you are acting in concert with each other. In other words, both co-executors can act independently and be recognized by the court.

This could be quite tricky if the executors don’t agree on certain things, so it’s crucial to consult with your lawyer about the best option for you and your co-executor to pursue going forward with probate. 

Being named executor of your loved one’s estate can feel like a daunting task, in Texas as in any other state. It’s not easy to navigate the legal obligations of probating your loved one’s estate while navigating your grief, but rest assured that with the help of a good lawyer, you will be able to smoothly carry out your duties as executor and honor your loved one’s wishes ●