During probate, Texas estates are generally settled in one of two ways. In a dependent administration, the executor must get court approval for most actions and report regularly to the probate judge, while in an independent administration, the executor is given more autonomy to carry out their duties without the need to report their actions to the court.
It is important to understand the differences between these two administration options, as well as the requirements to each, as the probate process will vary slightly depending on the route taken. This is especially true if you are the administrator (or executor) of an estate, as the responsibilities expected of you will differ slightly depending on how the estate is probated.
Dependent administration is often necessary if there are disputes among beneficiaries or if court oversight is otherwise required during probate. If the estate has large debts accrued, the stricter requirements for creditors may make dependent administration a better option for managing estate finances.
The key difference between dependent and independent administration is the amount of court supervision required. Dependent administration provides a higher level of scrutiny that helps heirs and beneficiaries of the estate know when the executor has properly completed certain duties during probate.
In the same regard, dependent administration offers the administrator a higher level of protection because all actions must be approved by the court as they are undertaken. However, dependent administration often requires a greater investment of time and money compared to other methods of probate as a result.
In contract to independent administration, dependent administration requires court approval for all transactions such as selling assets and paying debts. In addition, probate courts require an executor to have the assistance of an attorney throughout the process due to the increase in legal documentation and court hearings required of a dependent administration.
In Texas, the court can grant independent administration if:
- The deceased specified an executor in their will, or
- The will did not specify independent administration, but all beneficiaries agree to an independent executor.
After a will is filed for probate and an independent executor is assigned, the only involvement of the court is for the executor to file an inventory, appraisement and list of claims which contain all of the assets of an estate. If everything is in order, the judge will approve the inventory without a hearing and the court will not need to be dealt with again.
Independent administration is often far less time consuming and costly than dependent administration, as the executor is not closely supervised by the court and does not need preapproval for transactions related to the estate.
With this freedom, however, comes a higher level of responsibility, and it is most often necessary to work closely with an experienced probate attorney to avoid costly mistakes or a breach of fiduciary duty.
Contact an Experienced El Paso Probate Attorney
Regardless of if an estate is probated through dependent or independent administration, the duties expected of an executor can be overwhelming at times. This is especially true if an estate is being monitored by the court, as the administrator will be unable to act autonomously without the approval of the court at every step of the way. This can make probate an even more stressful ordeal than it already is.
Fortunately, Forbes & Forbes is here to help you at every step of the way. With decades of experience in Texas probate law, we are well-equipped to answer any questions you may have as the executor of an independent administration, or the administrator of a dependent administration. For more information about Texas probate laws and how it may affect the duties expected of you, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.