Sounds like the estate has to be reopened. If there is no backup executor of the primary estate named, an administrator or administrator CTA has to be named - this would typically be chosen from the list of closes relatives (heirs at law). The process is usually about the same as naming an original administrator. I would advise hiring an attorney as this is a little more than run of the mill. There are many good TX attorneys here on AVVO who can provide good details.
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If an alternate was named in the will and is available to serve, he or she should take over the job and go to court to get the proper documentation to serve. If no one was named as an alternate, someone should petition the court to name an alternate. You may need an attorney to assist you - depending on what you find in the Will.
Attorneys Zelinger and McMahon are correct. If there is a successor executor who is willing to serve, then he or she should petition the Probate Court to serve. If not, then an interested party will petition to serve as Administrator CTA (that is the name for a person who administers a will but is not named as an Executor therein). Whoever petitions the court should be represented by an experienced attorney. Good luck to you.
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You will need to file a motion to appoint successor executor, which will also include an accounting of the estate up until that point. Because this is an estate, you will also need to hire a probate attorney to represent the executor. The attorney can prepare the motion and assist the new executor. The new executor will have to take an oath and may have to post bond. A new inventory may also need to be prepared if new property has come into the estate.
Go see a probate attorney to assist you and your family further.
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For clarity, let me use these terms. D1 is the person who died in 1981. D2 is the executor/inheritor who died recently. The probated will of D1 acts as evidence of transfer of title to D2. If the property is in a different county than where the will was probated, a certified copy of the will should be filed in the county of the new property. So, the property is now in D2's name, the issue becomes who inherits D2's property. The current probate process for D2 will handle that. So, I disagree with my colleagues. A successor executor for D1 does not need to be appointed. The executor of D2 should be able to transfer clear title to D2's heirs. I hope that is helpful. You do need legal counsel.
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