Probate laws require certain facts be made public through publication. States vary as to what must be made public, where to publish and for how long, but every state has some type of publication requirements. Once made aware of probate through publication, beneficiaries and creditors have the opportunity to contest decisions of the personal representative or file claims against the estate.
Notice of Probate and Appointment of Personal Representative
The first notices published in a probate proceeding in jurisdictions that require them are notices that probate of a particular estate is open and that a personal representative is appointed. In Maryland, for example, the notice is published by the Maryland Registry of Wills in a local newspaper. It provides the name of the personal representative so that anyone with a legal interest in the estate, such as a beneficiary, who has a problem with the appointment can come forward and file an objection.
Notice of Interested Persons
In a probate proceeding, an interested person is anyone entitled to participate in the proceeding, such as a beneficiary, family member unnamed in the will or creditor. In other words, anyone who might have a stake in the distribution of estate assets. Some jurisdictions require that a personal representative publish a notice listing the interested persons of the estate. Texas and Maryland, for example, require such notices to be published in a local newspaper. Some jurisdictions, such as Texas, additionally require the notice to be posted in the county courthouse where probate is taking place. Usually the notice must also be sent to each listed individual directly.
Notice to Creditors
A creditor of an estate is anyone the deceased still owed money to at the time of death, i.e. anyone entitled to collect an unpaid debt of the decedent from the proceeds of the estate. Creditors must always be given notice of the probate. Usually the notice must be published in a local newspaper. Creditors have a certain amount of time to file their claims against the estate after notice is published, usually six months. The deadline is significantly shorter, usually two months, for any creditor given notice directly.
The amount of time a notice must run in a local newspaper varies by jurisdiction and type of notice being published. Many states, such as Maryland, require publication of any notice for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper generally circulated within the county where probate is being conducted.