When a Pennsylvania resident dies and a probate estate is opened, certain people are entitled to notice under Pennsylvania law. Who is entitled to notice depends on whether the estate is testate (decedent died with a valid will) or intestate (decedent died without a valid will).
Notice When Pennsylvania Estate Is Intestate
If a Pennsylvania decedent died intestate, notice must be given to each person that is an intestate heir under Pennsylvania’s law of descent and distribution. These laws can be found at 20 Pa C.S. §§ 2101 to 2108 and Pa O.C. Rule 10.5.
The personal representative has three months from appointment to give the required notice. See Deadlines and Timelines In Pennsylvania Probate.
Notice When Pennsylvania Estate Is Testate
If the decedent died testate (decedent had a valid last will and testament), the notice requirements are a bit more complicated.
The personal representative of a Pennsylvania testate estate must give notice to:
- Each beneficiary named in the decedent’s will;
- Decedent’s spouse and children, even if they are not named in the will;
- The trustee of trust beneficiaries of the will;
- If there are charitable beneficiaries who have an interest over $25,000 or if the charitable beneficiary is not to be paid the full bequest, notice must be given to the attorney general;
- The Attorney General on behalf of any governmental beneficiary;
- If the Pennsylvania decedent has received Medicaid or other government health benefits, notice must be given to the Department of Revenue.
- Such other persons and in such manner as may be required by local rule.
The list of persons entitled to notice of the opening of the Pennsylvania estate can be found at Pa O.C. Rule 10.5.
How Is Notice That a Pennsylvania Estate Has Been Opened Given?
Once a Pennsylvania estate has been opened, the required notice must be given by personal service or by first-class, prepaid mail to each person and entity entitled to notice under subparagraph (a)(1) – (9) of Pa O.C. Rule 10.5 whose address is known or reasonably available to the personal representative.
A form Notice of Estate Administration pursuant to Pennsylvania law can be found here.
After the required notice is given, the personal representative shall file with the Register a certification that notice has been given as required by Pa O.C. Rule 10.5.
Notice Of Administration By Publication In Pennsylvania
In addition to the notice requirements to the individuals set forth above, the personal representative also has to advertise that lets have been granted in a newspaper of general circulation near the decedent’s residence, and in the legal newspaper designated by local rule for the publication of notice.
If the decedent is not a resident of Pennsylvania, then the notice that an estate has been opened must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation near the place where letters were granted, and in the legal newspaper designated by local rule for the publication of notice.
Notice must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks. See 20 Pa. C.S. § 3162(a).
A Pennsylvania probate lawyer will be well versed in the notice requirements for a Pennsylvania estate and will make sure that the administration goes as smoothly as possible.