The court is required to appoint a temporary administrator if the judge determines that there is an immediate need to appoint a personal representative. The courts do not favor temporary administrations. They are often viewed as an unnecessary expense. The party seeking a temporary administration has to convince the court that the need is immediate.
The court may find there is an immediate need if the estate property is in jeopardy or being wasted or if the estate includes a business that needs to be operated. The court may also grant a temporary administration if there is a legal claim by a creditor or by the estate that may lapse if an administration is not started. For example, a temporary administrator may need to be appointed to file a wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations for the claim expires.
Temporary administrations are also granted if there is a pending will or other probate dispute. The temporary administration allows the temporary administrator to manage the estate while the dispute is pending.
As the name implies, a temporary administration is temporary. The temporary administration cannot exceed 180 days. If the temporary administrator is being appointed due to a pending will contest, the administrator can serve until the later of 180 days or when a permanent administrator is appointed.
The Temporary Administrator’s Bond
Before applying for temporary administration, the person seeking to be appointed should find a bond company that can provide a bond if the application is granted. Texas Estates Code § 452.004 requires the applicant to file a bond within three days (not including weekends or state holidays) after the date of the court order appointing the temporary administrator.
The court will determine the amount of the bond during or after the court hearing on the application for temporary administration. Generally, the amount of the bond will be based on the value of the assets that are in the estate. This is usually established by testimony provided by the applicant.
The Application for Appointment
A temporary administration can be requested by an interested party or by the court. Most temporary administrations start with the filing of an application.
The application for temporary administration is filed with the county clerk. Texas Estates Code § 452.002 says that the application has to:
- State the name, address, and interest of the applicant;
- State the facts showing an immediate necessity for the appointment of a temporary administrator;
- List the requested powers and duties of the temporary administrator;
- State that the applicant is entitled to letters of temporary administrator and is not disqualified by law from serving; and
- Describe the property that the applicant believes to be in the decedent’s estate.
The application also has to include all of the information included in an application to probate a will or for an intestate probate.
The Order of Appointment
In addition to filing the application, the person will generally provide a proposed order to the court. The order should designate the person as the temporary administrator, specify the period of appointment (e.g., up to 180 days), describe the powers that are granted to the temporary administrator, and set the amount of bond to be given by the appointee.
There are no predefined categories of powers that can be granted, but they usually involve the power to operate a business, sue or be sued, accept service of process, or take possession of the property–such as real estate. The court can authorize the administrator to approve or disapprove claims and to sell property to pay claims if the temporary administration is granted pending a will or other dispute.
Local practices vary, but generally, the amount of the bond is usually left blank and filled in by the judge during or after the hearing.
The court can appoint any qualified and suitable person to serve as the temporary administrator. The court has wide latitude to determine who is qualified and suitable.
Petition for Temporary Letters of Administration
The county clerk is to issue letters of administration no later than three days after the appointee qualifies as the temporary administrator. The temporary letters of administration is a legal document that evidences the administrator’s powers granted by the court.
The probate clerk will then post notice of the appointment on the courthouse door.
The administrator is required to notify the estate heirs of the appointment by certified mail. Texas Estates Code § 452.006(b) includes specific items that have to be included in the notice.
Contesting the Appointment or Making it Permanent
The appointment of the temporary administrator can be appealed by requesting a hearing within 15 days of the date the letters of temporary administration are issued. The probate court may convert the temporary administration to a permanent administration if it is in the estate’s best interest.
Closing the Temporary Administration
The temporary administration is closed when the administrator files an inventory with the county clerk. The inventory has to include a sworn list of all of the estate property the temporary administrator possessed, a return of all sales made by the administrator, and an exhibit and account of all the administrator’s acts while serving as administrator.
Once filed, the court will enter an order to discharge the administrator and the administrator can contact the bond company to have the temporary bond released.
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The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information presented may not apply to your situation and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney. We encourage you to seek the advice of a competent attorney with any legal questions you may have.