A Dependent Administration resembles an Independent Administration in many ways. For example, an Administrator is still appointed to manage an estate’s affairs such as paying debts and transferring property to your family.
The crucial difference is that a Dependent Administration, as the name suggests, is dependent. It is dependent on the court, requiring court approval for most actions that the Administrator needs to take in order to finish the probate process. Yes, this means that, in many cases, the Administrator cannot pay an estate’s debts, or even transfer an estate’s property to your family unless the court first approves this.
As you can imagine, this becomes quite expensive and time-consuming.
Consequently, if possible, it is best to avoid a Dependent Administration. In many cases, the easiest way to do this is simply for your family to not fight over your loved one’s estate. It’s that simple. If you don’t fight over who gets your grandma’s pearls and who gets your grandma’s diamond ring, the estate could likely qualify for a simple and smooth Independent Administration (especially if your grandma left a valid Will dictating who gets what). Most importantly, you won’t squander your inheritance by literally wasting the estate’s assets on court costs and attorneys fees.
Still, though, in some cases, a Dependent Administration might be necessary, or even recommended.
For example, if you have reason to believe that a family member destroyed or manipulated your loved one’s Will, or if you have legitimate concerns about your loved one’s estate and probate, it might be worth exercising your rights as an heir or beneficiary of the estate. This decision should be weighed considering all factors, and in tandem with an attorney who can review the uniqueness of your case and advise you of the risks and potential benefits involved.
Also, if a loved one left significant debts, then a creditor might initiate the probate in order to collect, which could force a Dependent Administration. Do not worry, though, in most cases—even with modest debts or a mortgage—an Independent Administration is very often obtainable.