There is a myth that ALL probate procedures are like a horror movie! In some states like Florida and California that can certainly be the case. But I tell people all the time that Texas is a truly probate-friendly state. (This is not to say there cannot be problems and delays in probate, but with a professionally drafted valid Will, that can usually be avoided.)
The reason this is true is because Texas is one of the few states that provides for Independent Administration (“IA”). This means that after an independent executor or administrator is approved and an inventory of estate assets or an affidavit, as an alternative, is filed with the court, the executor or administrator can simply take care of the administration of the estate without any further court involvement or supervision. The independent executor is free to carry out the directions of the Will. These tasks can include such things as settling with creditors, managing the property of the estate, selling assets for payment of debts, and distributing the remaining estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will (or if no Will – according to the Texas laws of intestacy) – all without the court’s involvement.
The total opposite of an IA is a Dependent Administration (“DA”). In a DA, the executor or administrator is required to seek the court’s approval before doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that needs to be done to settle the estate. This results in delays and greater expense.
Generally, a well drafted Will contains a provision that the executor or administrator will serve independently. However, if the Will does not contain this provision, or if there is NO Will, it is possible for the court to allow an IA if all of the beneficiaries or heirs agree to it. Although courts usually permit IA in cases where it is not provided for in a Will, the court always has the power to deny this request. Therefore, it is in your best interest to have a Will that provides for an IA.