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Independent Probate Administration In Texas

By far, the most popular method of probating an estate in Texas is the Independent Probate Administration.  In this type of administration, the Court appoints the executor or administrator to work independently of the court’s supervision.  Unlike Dependent Probate Administrations where the estate’s administrator is dependent upon the court for oversight of the entire administration, the independent executor or administrator is required to fulfill very few requirements for the Court.  Because the independent administration of an estate requires so little court involvement, this type of administration is usually less costly than a dependent administration, and it can usually be concluded quicker than a dependent administration.  Likewise, the independent executor or administrator is not required to post a bond, so there is less expense involved in an independent administration.

Court Requirements in an Independent Probate Administration

Once a Will has been admitted to probate and the Court has granted an independent probate administration, the independent executor has very few obligations to the Court.  For example, the independent executor must:

  1. Prepare an Inventory of the Estate’s assets;
  2. Publish Notice in a local newspaper to notify any creditors that the estate has been opened; and
  3. Provide notice and a copy of the Will to each person named in the Will to receive a portion of the Estate.

While an independent executor may choose to ask the Court for guidance on additional issues, the 3 items listed above are the only matters required to be filed with a Court in an independent administration.

What Happens Next?

After an independent executor has fulfilled the required duties above, they simply have to complete the general duties of an executor or administrator: to collect all of the assets, pay off the debts, and distribute the remaining assets from the estate.  This work generally happens in consultation with the executor’s attorney so that the executor performs the duties correctly.  Once each step is completed, then the executor will distribute the remaining assets of the estate to the people listed under the Will or to those determined by Texas law to receive the assets.  As soon as all of the assets are delivered, the executor’s duties will be complete.

Is Independent Administration Available When There is No Will?

As mentioned elsewhere, the default rule in Texas requires that a probate be handled as a Dependent Probate Administration, despite the fact that clients in most estates prefer to have an Independent Probate Administration.  The ability to create an independent probate administration generally requires that the deceased person have left a Will that designates that his or her probate be handled as an independent.  If the person died without no Will, then they obviously did not designate an independent administration.

However, Texas law has created an exception to the default rule.  Under this exception, if all of the heirs of the estate agree to create an independent administration, even though the deceased person did not provide for it, then the Court has the power to create an independent administration.  Because this ability relies on 100% agreement among all of the heirs, it can sometimes be difficult to achieve the agreement, but when possible, it provides a valuable opportunity to reduce time and cost associated with a dependent administration.

Need Legal Guidance?

If you plan to probate an estate but are unsure if independent administration is the best method, or you have questions about the probate process and want to discuss your case with a Texas probate attorney, we invite you to contact Ford + Bergner LLP now by calling 713-352-0937. With offices in Houston, Dallas and Austin, we serve clients throughout the state.