Publication & Notification in Probate
Once a Probate case has been filed with the Court a hearing date will be set. A Notice of Hearing, Probate Petition and Notice of Petition to Administer Estate needs to be served on all heirs and beneficiaries. Also, the Notice of Petition to Administer Estate needs to be published in the newspaper in the county where the Probate case is being heard. The notice needs to be published for four weeks, however the local rules for a particular county may have more specific rules for publication. Publishing the notice in the newspaper allows (1) any heirs that were not specified in the will, (2) beneficiaries that the Petitioner was unaware of and (3) creditors to be be notified that the decedent has passed away. You will receive Proof of Publication from the newspaper which lists the dates that the notice will be published. The Proof of Publication needs to be filed with the Court within thirty days before the hearing.
The Notice of Hearing needs to be served at least fifteen days before the hearing date and an additional five days needs to be added for serving the documents by mail. The Proof of Service of the Notice of Hearing and the Notice of Petition to Administer Estate needs to be filed with the Court before the hearing.
Depending on the County, a Probate Examiner may review the file to ensure that (1) all documents have been properly completed and notice correctly given; (2) the Proof of Service was filed; (3) the bond was obtained; and (4) nothing is missing prior to the hearing. It is the responsibility of the Petitioner, or the probate attorney, to “clear” the calendar notes before the hearing. You will need to check your county’s local rules to ensure that everything is correct and set-up before you go in front of the Judge.
Once it has been determined that notice was properly given and the time for publication has passed, the Order for Probate and the Letters can be submitted at the hearing date so the estate can start being managed. If the Probate Examiner determines that the deficiencies were not cleared before hearing, the Order cannot be signed by the Judge and the hearing will have to be postponed. If the hearing needs to be continued the Notice of Hearing and Notice of Petition to Administer Estate will need to be served on everyone again and everything will need to be published again in the newspaper which, in turn, will delay the process further.