Texas Wills and Probate Law
ACCOUNTINGS, SUCCESSORS, AND OTHER REMEDIES
TEXAS ESTATES CODE, TITLE 2. SUBTITLE I. CHAPTER 404.
§ 404.001. ACCOUNTING.
(a) At any time after the expiration of 15 months after the date that the court clerk first issues letters testamentary or of administration to any personal representative of an estate, any person interested in the estate may demand an accounting from the independent executor. 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.
(a-1) Any other interested person shall, on demand, be entitled to a copy of any exhibit or accounting that has been made by an independent executor in compliance with this section.
(b) 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.
(c) 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, and such subsequent demands may be enforced in the same manner as an initial demand.
(d) The right to an accounting accorded by this section is cumulative of any other remedies which persons interested in an estate may have against the independent executor of the estate.
§ 404.002. REQUIRING INDEPENDENT EXECUTOR TO GIVE BOND.
When it has been provided by will, regularly probated, that an independent executor appointed by the will shall not be required to give bond for the management of the estate devised by the will, or the independent executor is not required to give bond because bond has been waived by court order as authorized under Section 401.005, then the independent executor may be required to give bond, on proper proceedings had for that purpose as in the case of personal representatives in a supervised administration, if it be made to appear at any time that the independent executor is mismanaging the property, or has betrayed or is about to betray the independent executor's trust, or has in some other way become disqualified.
§ 404.003. REMOVAL OF INDEPENDENT EXECUTOR WITHOUT NOTICE.
The probate court, on the court's own motion or on the motion of any interested person, and without notice, may remove an independent executor appointed under this subtitle when:
(1) the independent executor cannot be served with notice or other processes because:
(A) the independent executor's whereabouts are unknown;
(B) the independent executor is eluding service; or
(C) the independent executor is a nonresident of this state without a designated resident agent; or
(2) sufficient grounds appear to support a belief that the independent executor has misapplied or embezzled, or is about to misapply or embezzle, all or part of the property committed to the independent executor's care.
§ 404.0035. REMOVAL OF INDEPENDENT EXECUTOR WITH NOTICE.
(a) The probate court, on the court's own motion, may remove an independent executor appointed under this subtitle after providing 30 days' written notice of the court's intention to the independent executor, requiring answering at a time and place set in the notice, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the independent executor's last known address and to the last known address of the independent executor's attorney of record, if the independent executor:
(1) neglects to qualify in the manner and time required by law;
(2) fails to return, before the 91st day after the date the independent executor qualifies, either an inventory of the estate property and a list of claims that have come to the independent executor's knowledge or an affidavit in lieu of the inventory, appraisement, and list of claims, unless that deadline is extended by court order; or
(3) fails to timely file the affidavit or certificate required by Section 308.004.
(b) The probate court, on its own motion or on motion of any interested person, after the independent executor has been cited by personal service to answer at a time and place set in the notice, may remove an independent executor when:
(1) the independent executor fails to make an accounting which is required by law to be made;
(2) the independent executor is proved to have been guilty of gross misconduct or gross mismanagement in the performance of the independent executor's duties;
(3) the independent executor becomes an incapacitated person, or is sentenced to the penitentiary, or from any other cause becomes legally incapacitated from properly performing the independent executor's fiduciary duties; or
(4) the independent executor becomes incapable of properly performing the independent executor's fiduciary duties due to a material conflict of interest.
§ 404.0036. REMOVAL ORDER.
(a) The order of removal of an independent executor shall state the cause of removal and shall direct by order the disposition of the assets remaining in the name or under the control of the removed independent executor. The order of removal shall require that letters issued to the removed independent executor shall be surrendered and that all letters shall be canceled of record.
(b) If an independent executor is removed by the court under Section 404.003 or 404.0035, the court may, on application, appoint a successor independent executor as provided by Section 404.005.
§ 404.0037. COSTS AND EXPENSES RELATED TO REMOVAL OF INDEPENDENT EXECUTOR.
(a) An independent executor who defends an action for the independent executor's removal in good faith, whether successful or not, shall be allowed out of the estate the independent executor's necessary expenses and disbursements, including reasonable attorney's fees, in the removal proceedings.
(b) Costs and expenses incurred by the party seeking removal that are incident to removal of an independent executor appointed without bond, including reasonable attorney's fees and expenses, may be paid out of the estate.
§ 404.004. POWERS OF AN ADMINISTRATOR WHO SUCCEEDS AN INDEPENDENT EXECUTOR.
(a) Whenever a person has died, or shall die, testate, owning property in this state, and the person's will has been or shall be admitted to probate by the court, and the probated will names an independent executor or executors, or trustees acting in the capacity of independent executors, to execute the terms and provisions of that will, and the will grants to the independent executor, or executors, or trustees acting in the capacity of independent executors, the power to raise or borrow money and to mortgage, and the independent executor, or executors, or trustees, have died or shall die, resign, fail to qualify, or be removed from office, leaving unexecuted parts or portions of the will of the testator, and an administrator with the will annexed is appointed by the probate court, and an administrator's bond is filed and approved by the court, then in all such cases, the court may, in addition to the powers conferred on the administrator under other provisions of the laws of this state, authorize, direct, and empower the administrator to do and perform the acts and deeds, clothed with the rights, powers, authorities, and privileges, and subject to the limitations, set forth in the subsequent provisions of this section.
(b) The court, on application, citation, and hearing, may, by its order, authorize, direct, and empower the administrator to raise or borrow such sums of money and incur such obligations and debts as the court shall, in its said order, direct, and to renew and extend same from time to time, as the court, on application and order, shall provide; and, if authorized by the court's order, to secure such loans, obligations, and debts, by pledge or mortgage on property or assets of the estate, real, personal, or mixed, on such terms and conditions, and for such duration of time, as the court shall consider to be in the best interests of the estate, and by its order shall prescribe; and all such loans, obligations, debts, pledges, and mortgages shall be valid and enforceable against the estate and against the administrator in the administrator's official capacity.
(c) The court may order and authorize the administrator to have and exercise the powers and privileges set forth in Subsection (a) or (b) only to the extent that same are granted to or possessed by the independent executor, or executors, or trustees acting in the capacity of independent executors, under the terms of the probated will of the decedent, and then only in such cases as it appears, at the hearing of the application, that at the time of the appointment of the administrator, there are outstanding and unpaid obligations and debts of the estate, or of the independent executor, or executors, or trustees, chargeable against the estate, or unpaid expenses of administration, or when the court appointing the administrator orders the business of the estate to be carried on and it becomes necessary, from time to time, under orders of the court, for the administrator to borrow money and incur obligations and indebtedness in order to protect and preserve the estate.
(d) The court, in addition, may, on application, citation, and hearing, order, authorize, and empower the administrator to assume, exercise, and discharge, under the orders and directions of the court, made from time to time, all or such part of the rights, powers, and authorities vested in and delegated to, or possessed by, the independent executor, or executors, or trustees acting in the capacity of independent executors, under the terms of the will of the decedent, as the court finds to be in the best interests of the estate and shall, from time to time, order and direct.
(e) The granting to the administrator by the court of some, or all, of the powers and authorities set forth in this section shall be on application filed by the administrator with the county clerk, setting forth such facts as, in the judgment of the administrator, require the granting of the power or authority requested.
(f) On the filing of an application under Subsection (e), the clerk shall issue citation to all persons interested in the estate, stating the nature of the application, and requiring those persons to appear on the return day named in such citation and show cause why the application should not be granted, should they choose to do so. The citation shall be served by posting.
(g) The court shall hear the application and evidence on the application, on or after the return day named in the citation, and, if satisfied a necessity exists and that it would be in the best interests of the estate to grant the application in whole or in part, the court shall so order; otherwise, the court shall refuse the application.
§ 404.005. COURT-APPOINTED SUCCESSOR INDEPENDENT EXECUTOR.
(a) If the will of a person who dies testate names an independent executor who, having qualified, fails for any reason to continue to serve, or is removed for cause by the court, and the will does not name a successor independent executor or if each successor executor named in the will fails for any reason to qualify as executor or indicates by affidavit filed with the application for an order continuing independent administration the successor executor's inability or unwillingness to serve as successor independent executor, all of the distributees of the decedent as of the filing of the application for an order continuing independent administration may apply to the probate court for the appointment of a qualified person, firm, or corporation to serve as successor independent executor. If the probate court finds that continued administration of the estate is necessary, the court shall enter an order continuing independent administration and appointing the person, firm, or corporation designated in the application as successor independent executor, unless the probate court finds that it would not be in the best interest of the estate to do so. The successor independent executor shall serve with all of the powers and privileges granted to the successor's predecessor independent executor.
(b) Except as otherwise provided by this subsection, if a distributee described in this section is an incapacitated person, the guardian of the person of the distributee may sign the application on behalf of the distributee. If the probate court finds that either the continuing of independent administration or the appointment of the person, firm, or corporation designated in the application as successor independent executor would not be in the best interest of the incapacitated person, then, notwithstanding Subsection (a), the court may not enter an order continuing independent administration of the estate. If the distributee is an incapacitated person and has no guardian of the person, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to make application on behalf of the incapacitated person if the probate court considers such an appointment necessary to protect the interest of that distributee. If a distributee described in this section is a minor and has no guardian of the person, a natural guardian of the minor may sign the application for the order continuing independent administration on the minor's behalf unless a conflict of interest exists between the minor and the natural guardian.
(c) Except as otherwise provided by this subsection, if a trust is created in the decedent's will or if the decedent's will devises property to a trustee as described by Section 254.001, the person or class of persons entitled to receive property outright from the trust on the decedent's death and those first eligible to receive the income from the trust, determined as if the trust were to be in existence on the date of the filing of the application for an order continuing independent administration, shall, for the purposes of this section, be considered to be the distributee or distributees on behalf of the trust, and any other trust or trusts coming into existence on the termination of the trust, and are authorized to apply for an order continuing independent administration on behalf of the trust without the consent or agreement of the trustee or any other beneficiary of the trust, or the trustee or any beneficiary of any other trust which may come into existence on the termination of the trust. If a person considered to be a distributee under this subsection is an incapacitated person, the trustee or cotrustee may apply for the order continuing independent administration or sign the application on the incapacitated person's behalf if the trustee or cotrustee is not the person proposed to serve as the independent executor.
(d) If a life estate is created either in the decedent's will or by law, and if a life tenant is living at the time of the filing of the application for an order continuing independent administration, then the life tenant or life tenants, determined as if the life estate were to commence on the date of the filing of the application for an order continuing independent administration, shall, for the purposes of this section, be considered to be the distributee or distributees on behalf of the entire estate created, and are authorized to apply for an order continuing independent administration on behalf of the estate without the consent or approval of any remainderman.
(e) If a decedent's will contains a provision that a distributee must survive the decedent by a prescribed period of time in order to take under the decedent's will, for the purposes of determining who shall be the distributee under this section, it shall be presumed that the distributees living at the time of the filing of the application for an order continuing independent administration of the decedent's estate survived the decedent for the prescribed period.
(f) In the case of all decedents, for the purposes of determining who shall be the distributees under this section, it shall be presumed that no distributee living at the time the application for an order continuing independent administration of the decedent's estate is filed shall subsequently disclaim any portion of the distributee's interest in the decedent's estate.
(g) If a distributee of a decedent's estate should die, and if by virtue of the distributee's death the distributee's share of the decedent's estate shall become payable to the distributee's estate, then the deceased distributee's personal representative may sign the application for an order continuing independent administration of the decedent's estate under this section.
(h) If a successor independent executor is appointed under this section, then, unless the probate court shall waive bond on application for waiver, the successor independent executor shall be required to enter into bond payable to and to be approved by the judge and the judge's successors in a sum that is found by the judge to be adequate under all circumstances, or a bond with one surety in an amount that is found by the judge to be adequate under all circumstances, if the surety is an authorized corporate surety.
(i) Absent proof of fraud or collusion on the part of a judge, the judge may not be held civilly liable for the commission of misdeeds or the omission of any required act of any person, firm, or corporation designated as a successor independent executor under this section. Section 351.354 does not apply to an appointment of a successor independent executor under this section.