Understanding the Duties of an Administrator to Beneficiaries in Texas

Executor of Estate in Texas

Once you have been appointed as an Administrator or Executor of an Estate, you are now a fiduciary for the beneficiaries and persons interested in the estate.  As a fiduciary, there are certain duties in which you owe such beneficiaries. When determining what those duties are, Texas law generally holds an Administrator to the same fiduciary standard as a trustee. In this post, we will discuss the most common duties that an Administrator owes to beneficiaries. 

Duty of Loyalty

As a fiduciary, there is a duty to administer the estate solely in the best interests of the beneficiaries. An Administrator is not allowed to place themselves in a position where they could benefit. 

Duty Not to Delegate

Once accepting the fiduciary role, the Administrator is obligated not to delegate acts that should be personally performed by him or her.

Duty to Keep and Render Accounts and Furnish Information

 An Administrator has a duty to the beneficiaries to keep full accounts that are accurate, and a common law duty to beneficiaries at reasonable times to give complete and accurate information regarding the estate.

Duty to Exercise Reasonable Care and Skill 

While administering the estate, an Administrator is under a duty to exercise the same skill and care as a man of ordinary prudence would use in dealing with their own property.

Duty to Retain Control and Preserve Estate Property

A fiduciary must use the same skill and care that a person of ordinary prudence would use to preserve property of the estate and is also under a duty to take all reasonable steps to obtain and control the estate property.

Duty to Enforce Claims and Defend

Sometimes when administering an estate, there might be outstanding claims or actions pending or brought.  The Administrator is under a fiduciary duty to both defend actions brought by third parties against the estate and to take reasonable actions to collect claims owed.

Duty Not to Co-Mingle Estate Funds

When an Administrator collects estate funds, they should always be kept separate from other property and should be properly designated as estate property.  It is the duty of the Administrator to not only keep estate funds separate from the Administrator’s own property, but also to keep that property separate from other estates or trusts that are being administered by the Administrator.

Duty to Deal Impartially With Beneficiaries

Most importantly, as a fiduciary, the Administrator is under a duty to deal impartially among all beneficiaries of an estate and should pay attention to ensure impartiality in all situations.

Serving as an Administrator encompasses a broad spectrum of responsibilities which can have significant consequences if those duties are not fulfilled. Fully understanding and adhering to the duties will help an Administrator act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and ensure a smooth administration process.

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