Probate, the administration of an estate following an individual’s death, is handled differently in Texas than most of the rest of the country. The state has two kinds of formal probate. One is a procedure, called independent administration. The other is a court-supervised process, called dependent administration.
Generally, the executor of an estate has four years from the date of the death to file for probate. Otherwise, intestacy laws will determine how assets are distributed.
Independent Administration of Estates
The independent administration of estates process is oftentimes quicker, simpler and less expensive than dependent administration.
In this process, the will allows an executor to request independent administration. If the will doesn’t mention this or there is no will, the executor or administrator may ask the court for authority to act as an independent executor, so long as all beneficiaries agree with the request.
Here are a few of the privileges independent administration allows the executor:
- Court supervision is not needed during most steps taken to settle the estate.
- Posting a probate bond is not necessary.
- Entitlement to a five percent commission of transactions that relate to managing the estate (currency that the estate receives and pays out). Money that was in the estate at the time of death or that is distributed to inheritors is not included.
However, an independent executor holds many responsibilities, such as publishing notice to potential creditors and filing an inventory of assets with the court. The executor must also secure estate assets until they can be transferred to inheritors.
Dependent Administration of Estates
The dependent administration process is usually used when the beneficiaries disagree on how the estate should be handled. The court will supervise and approve most actions made by the executor, such as court paying debts, selling estate property, and distributing assets to inheritors.
Texas also has other simple transfer procedures that help allocate assets if there's a will, no unpaid debts and no Medicaid claim against the estate. If you have questions about probate options, ask the advice of an attorney with estate planning experience in Texas. An attorney can advise the best probate options your family has available.