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  September 18, 2019

In this series of blogs, I have outlined various different types of probates and probate alternatives to help you settle an estate and understand the potential costs. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, the cost is predominantly determined by the type of procedure followed. 

  • In Part One, I discussed probate as a muniment of title, which is usually one of the least expensive procedures. 
  • In Part Two, I discussed the cost of an independent administration of the estate. Both of those procedures require the decedent to have had a will. 
  • In Part Three, I discussed how if there is no will, the least expensive way to settle the estate through a court proceeding is a small estate affidavit. 
  • In Part Four, I discussed the high cost of a proceeding to determine heirship and for administration of the estate.

Today, I’ll walk you through dependent administration, a type of proceeding that can potentially be more expensive.

What Is Dependent Administration?

A dependent administration is a fully court-supervised proceeding to settle an estate. It will be required if the decedent had no will, or had a  couple signing legal contractwill without specific provisions authorizing an independent administration. 

The steps in a dependent administration initially are the same as for an independent administration as outlined in Part Two:

  1. The application for probate of the will as an independent administration and request for letters testamentary is filed with the county clerk. 
  2. Then, a citation is issued as required by law. 
  3. After the citation has been posted for at least ten days, the case will be set for hearing before the county judge. If requirements for the probate are met, the judge will sign an order admitting the will to probate and authorizing the issuance of the letters testamentary to the executor(s). 
  4. The clerk will then issue the letters testamentary. 
  5. A notice to creditors then must be published in the newspaper of general circulation in the county where the probate occurred. 
  6. A notice that the will has been admitted to probate must be sent to all the beneficiaries under the will unless they have waived notice. 

You may either file an inventory and appraisement of the estate with the court, or use an affidavit in lieu of filing, which indicates the beneficiaries have received a copy of it and approved it.

In addition to these steps, however, the court will have to be involved in sales of personal property and real estate. The process for handling creditor’s claims against the estate is also more complicated. 

Sale of real estate is a four-step process, involving a request to sell, approval to sell, report of sale, and an order confirming the sale. The court also will be involved in the ultimate distribution of the estate. 

Cost Of Dependent Administration

Again, the cost of the dependent administration initially will be the same as for an independent administration as outlined in Part Two

The attorney’s fee will likely start at $2,000 and range upwards depending on how many beneficiaries are involved, attorney travel time, how lengthy and complicated the inventory and appraisement of the estate is, and many other factors. 

The filing fee is usually about $375, and the cost of the publication of the notice to creditors varies widely depending on the city, from less than $100 to several hundred dollars.

In addition to these costs, attorney’s fees will be significantly higher based on the extensive court action required for approval of the actions of the administrator throughout the settlement of the estate. 

The amount of additional fees will depend on the types and number of assets in the estate. The likely cost over that of an independent administration is several thousand dollars if the estate has more than a couple of assets. 

This again shows the importance of having a well-drawn will providing for independent administration of your estate. The cost of a will is small compared to the cost of a dependent administration.

If you would like to talk about more about probate or administration of an estate, please call Adair M. Buckner for a free initial consultation.*

Schedule A Free Consultation
*(The free consultation does not cover actual review of documents or giving legal advice on a specific situation.)

** Please remember that the cost estimates given are only general, ballpark numbers for the Amarillo area and the costs can vary widely depending on many variables in your individual situation.

Article Topics:
Estate Planning Probate Legal Tips