I usually tell them more. I have to add quite a bit more information because they just keep adding layers of complexity and formality to the law. So I say, “In fact, you’re not an executor until the judge in the court says you are, and that’s only if the judge finds the will to be valid.”
A will is just another piece of paper until these things happen:
- the creator (testator) of it dies;
- the executor hires an attorney who files the will and other documents with the court, requesting a hearing on the will and the probate (proving up) of the will and the need to administer the estate (clear title to property like homes and cars and bank accounts);
- there is a hearing wherein the judge finds the testator has died and the will is valid (meeting all the myriad legal requirements);
- the judge finds the executor to be worthy (the executor has to be an adult with capapacity and not a felon or someone “the court finds unsuitable”!)
At that point, the executor doesn’t give the assets to the beneficiaries (devisees) yet. He or she must first carefully pay off all the creditors in the order the Texas Estates Code mandates and then, if anything is left, the beneficiaries will receive their portion of the estate.
I just condensed hundreds of pages of codified law and you should be thankful.
Recently in my Bible I was studying in the book of Hebrews, an amazing, comprehensive book, and it says, “Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.” (Hebrews 9:16-17) I’ve read that passage before, but it made me think, “Wow! This has been the law for thousands of years!”
If you’d like to understand more about wills and what they do (and don’t do), call us today for an appointment.
photo credit: Lori Spahn