Steele v. McDonald, 202 S.W.3d 926 (Tex. App.—Waco 2006, pet. denied)

 Estate Administration

 Pro Se


Independent Executor decided to discharge his attorney and proceed pro se. The court determined the Independent Executor is precluded from doing so because he is not a licensed attorney. The court explained that only a licensed attorney may appear in court because the executor is litigating rights in a representative capacity.

A well-reasoned dissent strongly disagrees. Generally, an independent executor may do anything the decedent could have done if he were still alive. Thus, it should follow that the executor should be able to appear pro se with respect to estate matters. The judge explained that “[a]ll over Texas estates are being probated, inventories prepared and filed, and estates being closed without an attorney being involved.” Steele dissent at 930. If the majority’s opinion is correct, all of this conduct must cease which would drastically reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of the independent administration system.

Moral: Under this case, all court appearances and filings by an independent personal representative require a licensed attorney. Should this case be left to stand, October 18, 2006 may well be remembered as the day the Texas independent administration system began to die.