Texas has a unique concept of the independent administration compared to the probate laws of most other states, in that it has simplified the often expensive and complicated probate process to allow certain executors and administrators to serve independently of the Court’s supervision, which makes the process more efficient and less costly.
An executor is independent if a) the Decedent left a Will specifying that his executor should be independent, or b) if the Decedent died without a Will or the Will does not allow for an independent executor, all of the heirs or beneficiaries under the Will agree to allow the Executor to serve as the Independent Executor.
A Dependent Executor is dependent upon the Court for oversight and approval of all of his actions. In this type of administration, the executor is required to post a bond. A bond is like an insurance policy and requires the payment of a premium to insure against the executor’s theft or mishandling of the estate. The Court requires a Dependent Executor to have an attorney because of the complexities of a dependent administration, including having to request the Court’s approval for all of the executor’s actions.
An independent executor does not have to post a bond or ask the Court’s approval to carry out his duties. This allows the estate to avoid substantial costs that a dependent administration requires.
The responsibilities of either an independent or a dependent executor include satisfying their duty to the estate’s heirs and beneficiaries.
Those responsibilities include:
1. collecting the assets
2. paying off any debts
3. distributing the assets according to the Will or according to Texas law if there was no Will.
The independent executor is also required to satisfy the requirements of the Court, including:
1. publishing notice to potential creditors in a newspaper, and
2. filing an inventory with the Court showing the assets of the estate.
Time Limit for Initiating the Probate Process
An executor has up to four years to probate the will, even if there was no will, after the Decedent’s date of death. Once four years have passed, the Court usually does not have authority to appoint an executor or allow the administration of the Decedent’s estate.
Though an executor has four years to file the will for probate, the sooner he initiates probate proceedings after someone’s death, the better.
Call for a Consultation with a Probate Attorney
Contact our Houston probate lawyers online or call to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your needs. Our ground-floor offices in Bellaire, Texas (a city within Houston), The Woodlands and Carmine, Texas are wheelchair accessible, with accessible parking in front.