There is a chance that you could be asked to serve as the estate representative for a spouse, parent or friend. If the probate process occurs in Texas, you must understand how it works in this state as the rules may be different compared to those in other parts of the country. A legal representative may be able to help you fulfill your duties throughout the process of settling an estate.

Your first mission is to protect a deceased person’s assets

The first thing that you will need to do upon an individual’s death is secure his or her belongings. This may mean changing locks or taking other steps to prevent others from entering that person’s home or apartment. It may also be necessary to take possession of valuable items until they can be distributed to their proper future owners. Finally, it is your responsibility to cancel credit accounts and to ensure that prescription drugs are properly disposed of.

Get the original will

You won’t be able to start the probate process without the original copy of the deceased person’s will. This may be left in a safe deposit box or the care of his or her attorney. Copies of the will should be sent to beneficiaries or other family members who may be entitled to receive them.

Pay final debts and expenses

Before a probate case can be closed, you will likely need to file a tax return and pay any legitimate debts owed to creditors. You may need to liquidate assets to pay taxes or other outstanding balances owed at the time of a person’s death. It is important to note that you could be personally liable for willfully ignoring a valid claim made against the estate.

An estate administration attorney may be able to answer any questions that you have about probate or your responsibilities as an executor. A lawyer may also help you handle any claims made by creditors, family members or other interested parties.