Appointing a Notice Agent

  1. Who May Be a Notice Agent?
  2. What Are the General Duties of a Notice Agent?
  3. If One Person Has Received or Will Receive Substantially All Decedent’s Assets
  4. If No One Person Has Received or Will Receive Substantially All Decedent’s Assets
  5. If the Notice Agent Is Not a Washington Resident
  6. If a Personal Representative Is Subsequently Appointed

 

Who May Be a Notice Agent?

The Issue: In a nonprobate estate, a Notice Agent:

  • Represents the interests of the nonprobate estate’s beneficiaries, and in effect
  • Plays the role of a Personal Representative for handling Creditor’s Claims.

The primary qualification for a Notice Agent is that they be or represent those who “[have] received or [are] entitled to receive substantially all of Decedent’s probate and nonprobate assets as a result of Decedent’s death.”  RCW 11.42.010(1)  Two likely candidates are, for example:

  • Decedent’s surviving spouse taking under a Community Property Agreement.
  • The Trustee of Decedent’s Living Trust.

If no one person is so qualified, then those persons who collectively have received or are entitled to receive substantially all of Decedent’s assets may appoint by a written agreement a person as Notice Agent to represent them.

What Are the General Duties of a Notice Agent?

  • To effectively begin a “Nonprobate Estate” with the Superior Court in the county of Decedent’s residence at death, analogous to filing a Petition for Letters:
    • To determine that no Personal Representative has been appointed for Decedent.
    • To determine that no other Notice Agent is serving for Decedent’s nonprobate estate.
    • To file a Declaration & Oath, stating that the person is qualified to act as, and will perform the duties of, Notice Agent.
    • To pay the same filing fee (currently, $110).
    • To obtain a cause number for Decedent’s nonprobate estate.
  • To handle Decedent’s Creditor’s Claims as would a Personal Representative:>
    • To publish what here is called a Nonprobate Notice to Creditors.
    • To determine whether to conduct a reasonable review for Decedent’s creditors, and if so, to conduct one.
    • To determine whether to give actual notice to Decedent’s known creditors, and if so, to give actual notice.
    • To receive any Creditor’s Claims.
    • To pay, compromise, or reject them.
    • To send a Notice of Rejection of Creditor’s Claim to any creditor not paid in full or compromised.

If One Person Has Received or Will Receive Substantially All Decedent’s Assets

The Issue: If the nonprobate estate has one primary Beneficiary, he/she may serve as the Notice Agent.

Complete and sign a: Declaration & Oath of Notice Agent form.

If No One Person Has Received or Will Receive Substantially All Decedent’s Assets

The Issue: If the nonprobate estate does not have one primary Beneficiary, the major Beneficiaries may appoint a Notice Agent.

If no one person is so qualified, then those who collectively have received or will receive substantially all of Decedent’s assets should:

  • Decide among themselves who they wish to represent them as Notice Agent,
  • Determine how much they wish to budget for:
    • A fee for services rendered by the Notice Agent, and
    • A fee for his/her attorney, and
  • Complete and sign a: Agreement Regarding Nonprobate Estate

The appointed Notice Agent should now complete and sign the Declaration & Oath of Notice Agent form, shown immediately above, then set it aside until he/she goes to Court.

If the Notice Agent Is Not a Washington Resident

The Issue: If the Notice Agent is not a Washington resident, he/she must appoint a resident of the county of Decedent’s residence at death to serve as his/her Resident Agent to receive any papers.

If the Notice Agent is not a resident of Washington, then RCW 11.42.010(5) requires the Notice Agent to designate a resident agent within the State who will accept mailing and service of all papers for Decedent’s nonprobate estate.  The agent is required to be either:

  • A resident of the county of the Court where the nonprobate will be filed, or
  • The attorney of record for the estate.

If you are not a Washington resident and you are appearing pro se (ie, without an attorney), then you will need to designate a resident of that county as your Resident Agent by completing and signing the Nonprobate Designation of Resident Agent form, having your appointed Resident Agent sign the Designation consenting to his/her appointment, and then setting it aside until you go to Court.

Nonprobate Designation of Resident Agent form.

If a Personal Representative Is Subsequently Appointed

The Issue: What is the effect of the subsequent appointment of a Personal Representative for Decedent’s estate?

A Notice Agent may serve only in the absence of a Personal Representative.  RCW 11.42.020(1)  Consequently, upon the subsequent appointment of a Personal Representative:

  • The authority of a Notice Agent ceases immediately.  RCW 11.42.150(1)
  • The subsequent appointment has no effect on:
    • The prior filing or publication of any Notice to Creditors, or
    • Any actual notice to creditors given by the Notice Agent.  RCW 11.42.150(1)
  • The Personal Representative may adopt, ratify, nullify, or reject any action of the Notice Agent.  RCW 11.42.150(2)
  • The Personal Representative will be presumed to have adopted all acts of the Notice Agent unless, within thirty days after appointment, the Personal Representative provides notice of rejection or nullification to the affected claimants according to the procedure provided in RCW 11.40.160.  RCW 11.40.160