There is no one-size-fits-all approach to probating an estate here in Texas. But there are two options — a dependent or independent administration. Both have their pros and cons.
The primary difference between these two administration approaches is how much oversight a probate court has over the proceedings. You should also be aware of some other peculiarities to avoid breach of fiduciary duty claims and other costly mistakes when administering a Texas estate.
Independent administrations of Texas estates
There are two primary instances in which a Texas executor can move forward with an independent administration. Executors can generally do so if the testator gave permission for an independent administration in their will. They may also pursue this option if all beneficiaries agree to probate the case this way.
One of the main factors that motivate testators or beneficiaries to opt for an independent administration is that they face minimal supervision by the probate judge. It also allows a Texas executor to sell a testator’s property and carry out other transactions without requiring pre-approval from a probate judge.
The court expects an independent administration estate executor to have a clear understanding of their fiduciary duties.
What to know about dependent administrations
Texas intestate succession rules apply for dividing assets when an individual dies without a legal will. The court may designate such cases as dependent administrations to oversee the identification of heirs, notification of creditors, liquidation and division of assets and other aspects of the probate process.
It’s also possible for a judge to convert what initially began as an independent administration case to a dependent case if they believe that an executor isn’t competent for the role.
Probating a Texas estate as an executor
You may expose yourself to both legal and financial liabilities if you mismanage an estate here in Texas. You owe it to yourself to consult with an attorney who has a thorough understanding of the probate process and can guide you through your Houston case.