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What does it mean to be an independent administrator of an estate?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2021 | Estate Planning

You may have a decent understanding of what it means to become the executor of an estate, but are you familiar with becoming an independent administrator? This is a person who has the ability to settle with creditors and to set aside exempt property to sell or distribute to others.

The nice thing about independent administration is that it avoids many of the costs that would be accrued by working with a court-supervised estate administration situation where the executor has to get permission before moving forward to settle the estate.

Independent administrators don’t require as much oversight

One of the key differences between being an independent administrator or dependent executor is the overall level of court supervision that is required. In a dependent administration, the court closely monitors the executor’s actions, so that it can let the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate know that the executor has completed certain legal tasks during probate accurately.

In an independent administration of the estate, this level of scrutiny isn’t there. A court may issue this kind of permission if there is a specific executor identified in the will left behind by the decedent or if all beneficiaries agree to a certain independent executor.

What are the benefits of independent administration?

The benefit of independent administration is that it’s not nearly as time-consuming as dependent administration. Additionally, the executor doesn’t need to have preapproval to complete transactions, so they are more efficient.

Is it easier to be accused of a breach of fiduciary duty as an independent administrator?

It is much easier to be accused of breaching fiduciary duties or making mistakes as an independent administrator, because there isn’t the intensive oversight of the court to monitor and catch mistakes.

If you are appointed to be the independent administrator of an estate, you may not need the court to watch over you, but you should make sure you know your legal rights and obligations. Your attorney can help you as you handle the estate, so that you are less likely to make costly mistakes that could impact you negatively in the future.