What Does Independent Administration Mean in Probating a Will?

By Heather Frances J.D.

When someone dies, his estate may have to go through a probate process to pay final debts and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. States set their own probate procedures, and many states have simplified procedures that are cheaper and quicker for small estates. In some states, including Texas, Missouri and California, estates can be settled through a process called independent administration.

Independent Vs. Dependent Administration

Probate courts do not have much oversight over cases being administered independently, so the process can be completed more quickly and affordably. Independent administrators can sell property, pay debts, close accounts and take other actions on behalf of the estate without having to ask the court for permission first. Administrators must comply with the will's instructions, however, as well as the notice requirements of the state. Sometimes, estates are better off with dependent administration, such as when beneficiaries do not get along or when the estate owes significant debts.

Allowing Independent Administration

Depending on state law, courts allow independent administration if the deceased person's will specifies that the estate should be administered independently or when all beneficiaries give written consent to independent administration. Any adult can act as the administrator or executor, unless he has been found to be unsuitable under state law or by the probate judge.

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Do You Have to Probate a Will According to the Laws in the State of Texas?


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What Is the Meaning of Settle Estate?

A Last Will and Testament contains instructions for the distribution of a person's assets, also referred to as the estate, when he dies. The will names a specific person, known as the executor, to act as the estate's representative. The executor, sometimes referred to as the administrator, must collect the decedent's assets, pay his debts and estate taxes, and distribute his remaining assets to the heirs named in the will. This process, called settling the estate, occurs under the supervision of the state probate court.

How to Settle a Personal Estate

When a person creates a will, she often includes language in the will identifying a person who will serve as the executor of the estate when the will creator dies. A person who dies without a will is said to have died “intestate.” Whereas an executor handles estate assets under a will, an administrator handles a deceased person’s estate if the person died intestate. Although the titles differ, both executors and administrators are responsible for managing the distributing the decedent’s estate.

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