What is the Difference Between Independent and Dependent Administration in Texas Probate?

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How Should Your Estate Be Administered?

Probate law in the State of Texas offers two ways to settle an estate: independent administration and dependent administration. To ensure that your own estate in Texas is settled properly after your death, you’ll need the advice and legal help that a Waco probate attorney provides.

What is probate? After a person’s death, probate is the legal process that inventories and evaluates the assets and properties in the decedent’s estate, pays the estate’s taxes and debts, and then distributes what remains of the estate according to the instructions in the decedent’s will.

The way your estate in Texas will be probated depends on your circumstances. Determining which administration method is best for your estate will hinge on several factors, including the complexity and size of the estate.

How Does Independent Estate Administration Work?

With independent administration, an estate’s executor is authorized to make decisions about the estate and is not required to consult a judge while settling the estate. Independent administration must be specified by the decedent’s will, or all of the decedent’s beneficiaries must agree to it.

Because the probate court does not interfere with the executor’s duties, independent administration of an estate is usually faster and easier than dependent administration. An estate’s executor, for example, may sell off properties and settle claims without obtaining court approval.

In the State of Texas, an estate’s executor has considerable legal responsibilities. If you are named as the executor of an estate that will be administered independently, when that time comes, you should be advised by a Waco probate lawyer who will ensure that you understand what the law requires and help you avoid costly mistakes.

How Does Dependent Estate Administration Work?

An estate with dependent administration is supervised by a Texas probate court. The executor of an estate with dependent administration must have the probate court’s approval in order to settle claims, sell off properties and distribute the estate.

If someone dies without a will in Texas, state law provides that the estate will be dependently
administered unless all of the decedent’s legal beneficiaries agree to the independent administration of the estate.
Because dependent administration involves the approval of the probate court, it takes substantially more time than independent administration, and there is more work for the executor of the estate.

Does Dependent Administration Offer Any Advantages?

However, dependent administration does offer some practical advantages to executors and beneficiaries. If an estate is in debt, for instance, dependent administration helps to ensure that the estate’s creditors will receive payment.

Dependent administration of an estate requires an executor’s actions to be approved by the probate court, so if the executor’s actions are challenged, dependent administration gives an executor additional legal protection that independent administration does not provide.

Also with dependent administration, the requirements for documentation and the heightened scrutiny help to protect an estate from disputes and unsubstantiated claims. However, getting a probate court’s approval for every transaction may be quite challenging and time-consuming.

Because there’s so much more work for the executors of estates with dependent administration, the executors of those estates should also have the legal services and advice that a Texas probate attorney can provide.

Have You Prepared a Will?

If you’re an adult in Texas, and if you haven’t prepared a last will and testament, the time to do so is now. Have a Waco probate lawyer help you prepare your last will and testament, and discuss with your lawyer if your estate should be administered dependently or independently.

If you already have a valid last will and testament in place, you may need to revise that document to address the administration of your estate. A probate lawyer in Waco can advise you regarding dependent vs. independent administration and help you make the necessary revisions.

A probate attorney can also help you protect your assets from the probate process. One option is establishing a revocable living trust. Assets that are legally owned by your living trust are transferred directly to your beneficiaries without probate court interference. Your attorney can prepare a revocable living trust and explain your other options for avoiding the probate process.

What Else Should Executors and Beneficiaries Know?

When an estate is large and complicated, or if there’s a dispute among the beneficiaries, probate courts in Texas have the power to impose dependent administration on an estate even if independent administration has been specified in the will and agreed upon by the beneficiaries.

Whether you are the executor of an estate with independent administration or with dependent administration, you may find that your duties and responsibilities can be overwhelming. Do not wait to obtain the legal advice you need from a Waco probate attorney.

Should You Have a Comprehensive Estate Plan?

A revocable living trust or a last will and testament is only one element of a comprehensive estate plan that can protect your properties and assets and provide financial security to your loved ones for years to come.

No one can predict tomorrow, but you can be prepared for whatever tomorrow may bring. Every estate plan is unique, but your own comprehensive estate plan should include a will and/or a trust, a durable power of attorney for financial matters, and a power of attorney for healthcare.

If you have a family, own a business, or have any significant properties and/or assets, you need to begin planning your estate now. The right Texas estate planning attorney can help you begin the process and provide you with the key insights and advice you may need.

Rainey & Rainey – Helping Texans Prepare for the Future

For over fifteen years, the award-winning legal team at Rainey & Rainey has been proud to serve families throughout Central Texas with reliable probate and estate planning advice and services.

An attorney with Rainey & Rainey can also discuss guardianships, living wills, and long-term healthcare planning. We will answer your planning questions, address your concerns, and prepare the legal documents that you need to protect yourself, your estate, and the people you love.

To learn more, to begin the estate planning process, or to obtain the probate, estate administration, or estate planning help and advice you need right now, contact the offices of Rainey & Rainey in Waco at 254-752-8644 or in Georgetown at 512-598-9005.

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