In re Estate of Teinert, 251 S.W.3d 66 (Tex. App.—Waco 2008, pet. denied).

Estate Administration

Independent Administration

Closing Estate by Operation of Law


Testator died in 1977 and his estate was handled through an independent administration in 1978. Although the executor paid creditors and distributed estate assets promptly to the beneficiaries, he never filed an affidavit to close the estate under Probate Code § 151. About thirty years later, a beneficiary petitioned the court to be appointed as the executor to resolve a dispute regarding royalty interests held by several devisees. The court refused his request, closed the estate under Probate Code § 152, and recommended that he could seek resolution of this issue in a separate legal proceeding. The beneficiary appealed.

The appellate court dismissed the appeal. The court explained that the closing methods of Probate Code § 151 and 152 are not exclusive. Prior cases have held that final distribution of the estate after creditors are paid results in the closing of the estate by operation of law. Thus, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to take further action with regard to Testator’s estate.

A dissenting judge pointed out that no court has ever determined that all estate assets were distributed and thus the conclusion that the estate was closed as a matter of law was incorrect.

Moral: Even though not required, it would be prudent to close all independent administrations by affidavit to avoid the possibility of renewed estate administration decades later.