What Should You Do When You Receive a Notice of Estate Administration?

What Should You Do When You Receive a Notice of Estate Administration?


When a personal representative is appointed as the executor of an estate, the local Register of Wills issues Letters Testamentary to the representative. Issuance of Letters formally opens an estate and grants authority to handle the legal and financial affairs of the estate.


Certain people are entitled to notice that an estate has been opened under Pennsylvania law. The representative is required by law to mail a standard form Notice of Estate Administration to certain individuals within three months of the grant of Letters. The list includes anyone named in the deceased’s Will, the spouse and children (whether or not named in the Will), and individuals who are entitled to receive property under intestacy law when there is no Will.


The purpose of the Notice is to notify specified people that a representative has been appointed, allow opportunity for objections, and to protect against fraud. The notice must be printed from a standard form prepared by the Court and mailed first class to the required persons.


How Can I Prevent Fraud and Avoid Becoming Disinherited?


An individual who has fraudulent intent to disinherit another person is unlikely to mail the required Notice. The Register of Wills relies upon the petitioner to determine the identities of the heirs. But estate beneficiaries can reduce the risk of fraud by filing an “informal caveat” with the Register of Wills. An informal caveat is a request that the Register not grant Letters without notifying the caveator in advance.


The caveat postpones issuance of Letters for 10 days after the filing of a Petition for Grant of Letters. The 10 day period provides opportunity for the caveator to file a formal caveat and object to the issuance of Letters.


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