Legal Hotline: Estate Notices

Legal Hotline: Estate Notices

PNA Legal Hotline

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, Pennsylvania law governs the content of estate notices and requires them to contain certain, specific information.

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

The law requires estate notices to include:

  1. the name of the decedent,
  2. the general location where the decedent lived, typically the municipality and county of residence,
  3. the name and address of the estate’s personal representative,
  4. a request that all persons having claims against the estate notify the personal representative or her attorney, and
  5. a request that anyone indebted to the decedent to make payment to the personal representative or her attorney without delay.

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/or name and address of attorney, if any]

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

Newspaper staff should not give legal advice to advertisers, and advertisers with questions about the probate process should be directed to an attorney or the county 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.