Independent Administrations of Estates in Texas
The state of Texas allows personal representatives to ask for “independent administration” privileges when settling an estate. Many testators will include a provision calling for independent administration in their will, but the procedure can be requested even when there is no will if all beneficiaries agree.
When an estate is managed through independent administration, it is subject to less regulatory oversight. Consequently, independent administrations tend to be cheaper, faster, and more straightforward than the alternative. Among other advantages, the personal representative will not need to ask the court for permission to conduct routine transactions in the process of settling the estate.
Small Estate Probate Procedures in Texas
Smaller estates can potentially be closed through a substantially more efficient process if it meets certain requirements. If the total value of the deceased’s assets does not exceed the payment required to creditors and family allowances, it likely qualifies as a “small estate.” A family allowance refers to the amount of funds necessary to support the deceased’s spouse and dependents for 1 year. The personal representative of a “small estate” need only show a basic summary of how the estate was distributed.
A separate small estate procedure exists for situations where a deceased’s total assets do not exceed the value needed for family allowances. If all funeral and final medical expenses have already been covered, the personal representative can request a “no administration” order. This procedure effectively skips a majority of the probate and transfers assets directly to the deceased’s spouse and minor children.
Our firm is committed to helping you and your loved ones move through probate as quickly and inexpensively as possible. We can evaluate an estate, determine if it qualifies for any small estate procedures, and file the appropriate requests with the probate court.
Muniment of Title
A personal representative or executor may be unnecessary if you can submit the deceased’s last will and testament as a muniment of title. This procedural move allows a testator’s loved ones to honor the deceased’s final wishes while bypassing a bulk of the expensive probate process.
A muniment of title can be sought in Texas when:
- The deceased left a valid will
- The deceased has no outstanding debts (except those secured by real estate, including mortgages)
- Medicaid has no claim against the deceased
If these conditions are met, a loved one of the deceased will file the last will and testament and request the document be accepted as a muniment of title. If accepted, the will itself can facilitate the legal transfer of documents under the terms contained therein. A personal representative will not be named or appointed, and there will be no need to inventory assets or notify heirs or creditors. We can assess whether an estate may be eligible for a muniment of title and guide you through the process.
Heirship Determination Hearings
Under Texas state law, a deceased person’s assets must be distributed amongst their surviving direct heirs if they pass away without a valid will in place. An heirship determination hearing confirms and legally recognizes the direct heirs of a deceased individual.
An heirship determination hearing will generally involve a representative of the court investigating and verifying the identity of the deceased’s heirs. At least 2 witnesses will also need to typically confirm the identities of the heirs before they will be recognized by the court. Our firm can assist you with initiating and conducting the necessary steps to completing an heirship determination hearing.