The Cost Of A Full Dependent Administration In Texas

Posted by: Adair M. Buckner

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

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 of a Will 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 the administration of the estate.

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 Will without specific provisions authorizing an independent administration. It also will be required if ALL of the heirs do not agree to an independent administration after the determination of heirship, as I outlined in Part Four.

I have had experiences where all but one of many heirs agreed to an independent administration, but one holdout heir refused to agree, and then, a full dependent administration was required.


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 as a dependent administration and request for letters testamentary is filed with the county clerk. 

  2. 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 granting the dependent administration of the estate and authorizing the issuance of the letters of administration to the person the court appoints as the administrator of the estate.

  4. The clerk will issue the letters of administration. 

  5. A notice to creditors must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the probate occurred. 

  6. A notice that the probate has been opened and an administrator appointed must be sent to all the beneficiaries of the estate unless they have waived notice. 

  7. The administrator must 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.

Most importantly, in a dependent administration, in addition to all these steps, the court must be involved in the sale of personal property and real estate. The process for handling creditor’s claims against the estate is also more complicated. 

The sale of personal property or 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 must be involved in the ultimate distribution of the estate. 


The Cost Of Dependent Administration In Texas

As you can see from all of the steps outlined above, a dependent administration is much more involved than any of the other probate alternatives. As a result, it's also more expensive.

In Texas, the attorney’s fee will likely start at $2,500 and range upwards to many thousand dollars depending on:

  • How many beneficiaries are involved
  • Attorney travel time
  • How lengthy and complicated the inventory and appraisement of the estate is
  • How much real estate and personal property is in the estate
  • And many other factors

The filing fee is usually about $500, 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. Also, there may be substantial fees for the service of citation on beneficiaries of the estate who do not waive the service. 

The amount of additional attorney's 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. 

Reminder Of The Importance Of Doing Estate Planning

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

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

*** This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, specific tax, legal, or accounting advice. We can only give specific advice upon consulting directly with you and reviewing your exact situation.


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