We often see clients for assistance with the administration of a deceased loved one’s estate. For clients who choose to undertake administration on their own without the help of a lawyer, they are often surprised to learn that it is common practice to advertise the estate immediately upon opening the estate. Pennsylvania law requires that the executor “request all persons having claims against the estate of the decedent to make known the same to [the executor] or his attorney, and all persons indebted to the decedent to make payment to [the executor] without delay.” (20 Pa. C.S.A. § 3162.)
You will often see these legal notices among the other announcements in your daily paper, mixed in among the classified advertisements.
Advertisement is typically accomplished by publicly providing information regarding the decedent, the municipality in which he or she resided, and the name and address of the executor or administrator. The advertisement is run once per week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the decedent resided and the legal periodical publication for the county.
Potential creditors and claimants of the estate have only one year to make their claims known to the estate administrator. Advertising the estate provides notice to all potential creditors and claimants that the estate is being administered. After a year has passed, the executor may distribute the assets of the estate without fear of additional claims being brought forth. At that time, the executor may proceed with conclusion of the estate, although by law, the executor may file a final account after only “four months from the first complete advertisement” of the estate, though doing so may subject the administrator to liability.