Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Notices to Beneficiaries By Executors Under Texas Wills

When someone dies with a will (the “Decedent”) in the State of Texas, the representative of his estate (also called the “executor” or “administrator”) must give notice of the probate proceeding to every beneficiary under that will, which includes the following information:

• The name and address of the beneficiary to whom the notice is given;
• The Decedent's name;
• That the Decedent's will has been admitted to probate;
• That the beneficiary to whom the notice is given has been named as a beneficiary in the will;
• The estate representative's name and contact information; and
• Attach a copy of the will admitted to probate, as well as the court’s order admitting the will to probate.

A beneficiary is any “person, entity, state, governmental agency of the state, charitable organization, or trust entitled to receive real or personal property under the terms of a Decedent's will.”

The notice is required by Texas Probate Code § 128A. It must be sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, no later than the 60th day after the order admitting the Decedent’s will to probate, unless: (a) the beneficiary has signed a “waiver” that acknowledges receipt of a copy of the Decedent’s will and specifically waives the right to receive notice under Section 128A; or (b) the beneficiary has entered an appearance in the probate action prior to the date of the order admitting the Decedent’s will to probate. However, most Texas courts will not require this statutory notice when there is only one beneficiary under the Decedent’s will and that beneficiary is also the estate’s representatives.

Notice under Section 128A is required in all proceedings related to a Decedent’s will, including actions admitting the will to probate only as a “muniment of title.”

The estate’s representative must also file an affidavit with the probate court no later than the 90th day after the Decedent’s will is admitted to probate which states that he or she complied with the provisions of Section 128A.