Estate Administration in Texas Frequently Asked Questions

What is an independent administration?

Texas stipulates for independent administration free of court oversight. In other words, following the approval of an administrator or an independent executor and an inventory of estate assets (or an affidavit instead of an inventory) has been filed, the administrator or executor may handle the management of the estate without additional court participation or direction.

The administrator or independent executor may reach an agreement with creditors, set aside the homestead and other excused property, maintain the estate’s property, sell assets for payment of taxes or debs, and allocate the remaining estate to those with a legal claim to it. Consequently, independent administration avoids the delays and costs affiliated with a court-supervised estate administration in which the administrator or executor must seek court permission before performing any of these actions. Courts typically necessitate that all heirs-at-law consent to an independent administration before an independent administration is authorized.

What are the responsibilities of the estate administrator?

After the court qualifies the administrator, the individual shall take possession of all property belonging to the decedent (a legal term meaning the deceased). Any money received from the estate should be kept in a separate bank account. The administrator pays estate debts and allocates the residual assets as instructed by the court’s findings of heir ship or as described in the will if there is one.

Additionally, the administrator may need to supervise a family allowance abundant enough for the preservation of the deceased’s surviving spouse, children under the age of full legal responsibility, and adult children deemed incapacitated for one year from the date of passing. The Texas Estates Code sanctions for certain property to be exempt from creditors as well. The administrator sets the exempt property aside.

What do I do if the court appoints me to administer the estate?

Within 20 days from the date that the order appoints you an administrator, file an oath of office. If a bond is required as part of the order, it must be filed within the 20 days as well. Once the oath has been submitted, and the bond has been paid, you have become qualified to become the administrator. You may ask for one or more letters of administration, a document officially appointing an administrator to the property of a decedent without a will.

What should I do after I am appointed administrator?

Within one month after meeting the requirements for letters of administration (the qualification date is recorded on the letter), publish the notice to creditors of the estate in a local newspaper. Within two months after obtaining the letters, send notice by certified or registered mail return receipt requested to all known secured creditors.

Notice is given to unsecured creditors (such as credit card companies) under Texas Estates Code Chapter 308.054. Said notice would state that an unsecured creditor must present their claim before the 121st day after the notice is received. Your lawyer should compose and mail these notices. Proof of publication and of all notices to real estate lien creditors should be filed with the county clerk.

Who is not eligible to be an administrator?

The following are not eligible to be appointed to administer the estate:

  • Nonresidents of Texas
  • Felons
  • Incapacitated persons
  • Corporations without an appointed agent in Texas
  • Any individual the court believes to be unsuitable for administration

How would I be representing the interests of others as estate administrator?

Many incorrectly presume that the role of estate administrator is to act only on one’s behalf and that the letters of administration are for one’s benefit. As administrator of a decedent’s estate, your responsibility is to represent the interests of others besides your own. An administrator represents the interests of creditors and beneficiaries. Said duty to act for the benefit of another is known as a fiduciary relationship. It brings about legal responsibilities and obligations that necessitate legal expertise. The lawyer you employ will represent you in your appointment as administrator and will assist you in remaining accountable to those whom you are responsible for.

How long does the administrator have to dispense the inheritance?

In most circumstances, the administrator may be terminated after notice if he or she fails to make a closing distribution of the estate within three years after letters of administrations have been accorded.

Schedule a Consultation Today to Learn More About Estate Administration

There are many intricacies and responsibilities that come with being an estate administrator. Without the proper direction and understanding, there are numerous pitfalls for the unwary. At the Voeller Law Firm, our goal is to provide clients “white glove” service as we take the burden off the executor or administrator and work to streamline the process to settle your loved one’s estate efficiently.

If you are the named executor, trustee, or are an heir or beneficiary and have questions regarding a deceased loved one’s estate, we welcome you to call us today at (210) 651-3851 to request a consultation and learn more about estate administration. We specialize in probate, estate, and trust administration, and our team of attorneys has over 35 years of experience helping our clients with their estate administration affairs.

Our services go far beyond merely preparing – we do our best to help you protect your future.

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