Understanding the Difference Between Dependent and Independent Estate Administration

There are generally two ways to settle estates in Texas: dependent and independent estate administration. The probate process will depend on the route you take, so it is important to understand the difference between the two types of administration. Here is how dependent and independent estate administration differ. 

Dependent Administration 

Dependent administration is usually used when there are disputes among the heirs or when the probate process requires the court’s intervention. It is comparatively better for managing estate finances if the estate has accrued large debts. Dependent administration allows the beneficiaries of the estate to know when certain probate duties have been completed by the executor. 

Additionally, the administrator benefits from more protection because the court has to approve all actions as they are undertaken. The downside is that dependent administration usually costs more time and money to complete compared to other probate methods. 

Court approval is required for every transaction, including selling assets and clearing debts. The executor, on the other hand, must have the legal guidance of an attorney throughout the probate process because of the considerably higher number of court hearings and legal documents involved. 

Independent Administration

Independent administration can be granted if:

  •  There’s a designated executor in the Will
  • All the beneficiaries/heirs agree to an independent administration 

In an independent administration, most aspects of the estate are administered by the personal representative of the deceased. It is usually done when initiating the probate process but can also be used anytime during the process. Interested parties have the legal right to object to the independent administration. If the court grants the partition, the probate proceedings change and any actions regarding the estate (such as property sale) are relinquished by the court. 

The court can award full or limited authority to the personal representative. Limited authority requires court supervision for the exchange or sale of real estate property. Full authority does not require the court’s supervision unless there is an objection, or, the estate’s attorney or personal representative is the principal exchanging with or buying the estate property. 

Without court supervision, the personal representative must provide a “Notice to Beneficiaries” to all listed beneficiaries named in the will. He or she must inform all the people and entities: 

  •  The named executor/administrator appointed by the court 
  • A copy of the will which was offered and admitted to probate
  • The date that the court admitted the will for probate.
  • The Attorney General, if the State has a claim on any portion of the estate 

The main difference between a dependent and independent administration is the level of court supervision required in each case. While independent administration offers a lot of freedom, it is often advisable to work with an experienced attorney to avoid making costly mistakes. For any assistance or legal representation, contact the Amsberry Law Firm now at (210) 354-2244.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.

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