The Texas Estates Code provides an avenue for any interested person, i.e., a beneficiary, in the estate to demand an accounting from an executor. A beneficiary of an estate that is the subject of an independent administration can seek the aid of the Texas probate court if the independent executor does not comply with a demand for an accounting.
When Can A Beneficiary Demand An Accounting In A Texas Independent Administration?
After 15 months from the date that the court clerk first issues letters testamentary or of administration to any personal representative of a Texas estate, any person interested in the estate can demand an accounting from the independent executor. Read about Texas Probate Deadlines and Timelines.
What Is Required To Be In An Accounting From A Texas Independent Executor?
Pursuant to section 404.001 of the Texas Estates Code, upon demand for an accounting, the independent executor shall furnish to the person or persons making the demand an exhibit in writing, sworn and subscribed by the independent executor, setting forth in detail:
(1) the property belonging to the estate that has come into the executor’s possession as executor;
(2) the disposition that has been made of the property described by Subdivision (1);
(3) the debts that have been paid;
(4) the debts and expenses, if any, still owing by the estate;
(5) the property of the estate, if any, still remaining in the executor’s possession;
(6) other facts as may be necessary to a full and definite understanding of the exact condition of the estate; and
(7) the facts, if any, that show why the administration should not be closed and the estate distributed.
What Happens If The Texas Independent Executor Does Not Provide An Accounting?
Section 404.001 of the Texas Estates Code not only provides the mechanism for a beneficiary to demand an accounting from an executor, but also provides a remedy if the independent executor fails to comply with the demand, stating:
Should the independent executor not comply with a demand for an accounting authorized by this section within 60 days after receipt of the demand, the person making the demand may compel compliance by an action in the probate court. After a hearing, the court shall enter an order requiring the accounting to be made at such time as it considers proper under the circumstances.
A Texas independent executor does not want to explain to the Texas probate court why he or she did not comply with a demand for accounting. Generally, an initial demand will not go ignored.
After an initial accounting has been given by an independent executor, any person interested in an estate may demand subsequent periodic accountings at intervals of not less than 12 months. Such subsequent demands may be enforced in the same manner as an initial demand.
A key aspect of effectively administering a Texas estate is communication with the beneficiaries. While a beneficiary does not need (and likely does not want) to be informed of every mundane step of the process, a beneficiary should have a general idea of the status of the estate, including its assets and liabilities.
In an independent administration, the estate is administered without the probate court’s approval. However, the lack of probate court approval does not mean that an independent administrator can ignore a beneficiary’s requests for information.