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There can be several reasons for administering an estate under a Dependent Administration. First, if there is no Will, it may be necessary for the estate to fall under stricter scrutiny by the Court. Second, if there is a large amount of debt owed by the estate, a Dependent Administration will require that every step made by the administrator or executor be approved by the Court and therefore the creditors have little room to complain. Third, if you expect trouble from one or more of the beneficiaries, the court involvement and the necessity of its approval for every step can often make it more difficult for “pot-stirrers” to cause problems.
The Dependent Administration generally follows the steps of an Independent Administration, However, under a Dependent Administration, the administrator must first obtain a surety bond in order to protect the estate. This is the case unless there is a Will that specifically states that a bond is not required. The administrator in the Dependent Administration is then dependent upon the Court’s supervision and authority to conduct any action in the probate process. For example, the dependent administrator is required to seek the Court’s approval before selling a house, selling a car, cashing in stocks, paying debts of the estate, opening bank accounts, etc.
In addition, the administrator in a Dependent Administration is required to file accountings with the Court during each year the probate case is open. In these accountings, the administrator must inform the Court about all of the income and all that is being paid by the estate during the year. The administrator must also provide copies of all receipts for expenses and verifications from various financial institutions as to the balances of accounts owned by the estate at the end of the year.
The Dependent Administration provides a greater level of scrutiny that assures heirs and beneficiaries of the estate that the administrator has properly completed his or her duties. Similarly, the Dependent Administration provides the administrator with a greater level of protection because all of his or her actions must be approved by the Court at the time they are undertaken.
As you can see, administering an estate as a Dependent Administration is much more involved than an Independent Administration. Consequently, Dependent Administration are significantly more expensive and time consuming than other forms of probate.