Serious young woman working at home

Let’s assume your mom, who lived in Texas, died and left a written will naming you as her independent executor. What can you expect once the court has appointed you the independent executor of her estate? 

Becoming an Independent Executor 

1. Formally Qualifying

You formally qualify to serve as independent executor of the estate by filing your written oath of office. This is normally done at the court hearing.

Because you are an “independent” executor, you may act independently of the Probate Court’s control, except that you must file a required Inventory and List of Claims or file an Affidavit in Lieu. This is extremely fortunate for you and your mom’s estate. If you are only appointed as a dependent executor, then most of your actions would be subject to prior approval by the Probate Court, which would greatly increase the time and expense of probate. Texas is unique in that it offers an independent executor type of probate.

2. Getting Your Letters Testamentary 

Once you have qualified by filing your oath, you can obtain a document called “Letters Testamentary” from the County Clerk. The Letters show the world that you have been appointed independent executor and are authorized to act for your mom’s estate. You will present the Letters to virtually the entire world you will be dealing with – banks, investment companies, title companies, and the like – to gather your mom’s estate and pay her debts.

Most people order just 5 original Letters in the beginning. The Letters are only valid for 60 days after the Clerk issues them, so you don’t want to order a lot. You can request new Letters from the Clerk at any time. 

3. Administration of the Estate

Now for the challenging part:  the administration of the estate. This involves several types of actions. You will collect all the probate assets your mom owns, and all claims owing to her. You will resolve all debts, liabilities, claims, and expenses owed by your mom or her estate. You will pay her taxes and any estate taxes. You will distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in your mom’s will. There are deadlines.

This won’t necessarily be easy, especially because there remains a huge danger. Someone could challenge the admission of your mom’s will to probate at any time during the next 2 years. If the will is challenged, the court could order you to account for all your actions as an independent executor. 

Tips for Handling the Estate

Be very careful how you handle the estate.  

  • Keep detailed records.  
  • Require receipts when you pay a claim or distribute an asset to a beneficiary.  
  • Keep the beneficiaries reasonably informed of your actions.

Open a Bank Account

You should open at least 1 bank account in the name of your mom’s estate. Before you can do that, you will need to obtain a separate taxpayer identification number for her estate. This is the number that should be used on all the estate accounts. The account should be named “[Your Name], Independent Executor of the Estate of [Your Mom’s Name as shown on the Letters], Deceased.”

Use this account to hold your mom’s cash assets and any revenue from the estate. Use this account to pay the estate expenses, and to make any estate disbursements. Do not commingle any of your own money with the estate money; however, you can reimburse yourself for appropriate estate expenses you paid with your funds before the account was opened.   

Hammerle Finley Law Firm is Here to Help with Independent Executorship 

Becoming an independent executor in Texas can seem daunting. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help you every step of the way. Contact the experts at Hammerle Finley Law Firm today. 

Being an independent executor is just like having another job. It is time-consuming and burdensome. Thanks for choosing to do it.  

Virginia Hammerle is an accredited estate planner and represents clients in estate planning, probate, guardianship, and contested litigation. She may be reached at This blog contains general information only and does not constitute legal advice.