Once a probate is opened inTexas, an “executor” (if named in a will) or an “administrator” (if appointed by the court) acts to inventory the decedent’s assets, pay bills and taxes, and distribute assets to beneficiaries. This process may be handled as either an independent administration or a dependent administration. A dependent administration is court-supervised, and no task may be completed without advance approval. As any Fort Bend County probate lawyer will tell you, a dependent administration is far more costly and time-consuming than an independent administration.

Even where an independent administration is suggested by either the terms of the will or the agreement, a dependent administration may be created in any probate situation. For example, the will of the deceased may specifically call for and name an independent executor. Additionally, the heirs of a person who died intestate (without a will) may agree that the court appointed administrator should serve independently. Neither, however, is controlling.

When is a Dependent Administration preferable?

Despite the downside of increased costs and time involved with a dependent administration, the executor or administrator may prefer a dependent administration over an independent one.  There are two common situations where a dependent administration may be preferred: 1) when the estate of the decedent has significant debts or 2) where it may be anticipated there will be disputes among the beneficiaries.

In the first case, different rules apply as to how creditors are to be paid through dependent administration versus independent administration. It is more difficult to be paid as a creditor if the executor is dependent, and estates with high debts may benefit with a dependent executor.

If it seems likely that the beneficiaries will not agree on asset distribution, the executor may prefer to have the court supervise the process. In so doing, any potential claims by the beneficiaries must be resolved through court rulings and not through litigation against the executor.

Do you have questions or do you want to make an appointment with Fort Bend County probate attorney Paul Romano?

Call us at 281 242-0995 or contact our Houston law offices.