Legal Hotline: Estate Notice Requirements

  • Jun 07, 2018

Melissa Melewsky Media Law Counsel

Q:  An advertiser wants to run an estate notice and only include the name of the deceased and an address for the executor.   Is that enough information?

A:  No.  Estate notices are required to have more information.

The Pennsylvania Probate Code, 20 Pa.C.S. § 3162,  requires the personal representative of an estate, immediately after the "grant of letters," to place a notice in one newspaper of general circulation published at or near the place where the decedent lived, or in the case of a nonresident decedent, at or near the place where the letters were granted.  Notice must also be placed in the designated county legal journal, if one exists. Both notices must run once a week for three successive weeks.

The law also requires estate notices to include the name and address of the personal representative, and the notice must request all persons having claims against the estate to notify the personal representative or his attorney, and anyone indebted to the decedent to make payment without delay.  Estate notices also contain the name of the decedent and the general location where the decedent lived, typically the municipality and county of residence.

Estate notices typically follow this general template:

ESTATE NOTICE Estate of [name of decedent], late of [municipality of residence], County of [county of residence], Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters of Administration on said Estate having been granted, and all persons indebted thereto are requested to make immediate payment, and those having claims or demands against the same will present them without delay for settlement to: [name and address of the personal representative and name and address of attorney, if any]

Estate notices containing only the name of the deceased and the executor’s address do not comply with the Probate Code’s requirements. Failing to comply with the notice requirements of the Probate Code could result in a legal challenge during estate administration.

Newspapers should not give legal advice to advertisers, and advertisers with questions about the probate process should be directed to an attorney or the local bar association for a referral.

As always, this is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice.  Please contact your newspaper’s attorney or the PNA Legal Hotline at (717) 703-3080 with questions.

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