HOW DO I KNOW WHAT I GOT UNDER A WILL?
by Michele Malloy
You have lost a dear relative, or a close friend, who may have often told you that he/she was leaving something to you. Maybe it was some money, or stock, or a cherished ring. You don’t want to be rude and ask that person’s spouse of children about the bequest, but you would like to know if you did receive what had been mentioned. What do you do?
Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s estate is distributed, whether or not there is a Will, and probate law differs for each of the states. In Texas, the new Estates Code, which became effective January 1 of this year, specifies that within 60 days of a Will being admitted to probate by the Court, “the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, including an independent executor or independent administrator, shall give notice that complies with Section 308.003 to each beneficiary named in the will whose identity and address are known … or … can be ascertained.” Section 308.002(a). This notice must contain the following:
- Name and address of the beneficiary to whom the notice is given;
- The decedent’s name;
- Statement that the Will has been admitted to probate;
- Statement that the person to whom the notice is given is a beneficiary under the Will;
- The name of the personal representative of the estate; and
- Either a copy of the Will and the Order admitting the Will to probate or a summary of the gifts to the beneficiary under the will and data about the docket number of and court for the probate of that will.
Section 308.003. After giving such notices, the personal representative must file with the Court a sworn affidavit that the notices were given., with the name and address of each person who was given notice. If there is any beneficiary to whom notice has not been given, there needs to be a sworn statement from the personal representative with the name of the beneficiaries to whom notice could not be given and why.
Texas has these clear rules to be sure that each person named in a Will gets what they are supposed to get. Remember, however, that we can sometimes outlive our money and there may not be anything left to give to the beneficiaries. Or that ring may have been lost, sold or stolen. If you have any questions about this, or need to be sure you have taken care of your loved ones in your own estate planning, please give me a call.