Dave Frees: That brings us to Number 7. Failure to advertise the estate. Many of you may have seen these little ads in your local newspaper. And if you made it a habit, which hopefully none of you do, to read the Chester County Law Report or the Montgomery County Law Report or the Philadelphia Intelligencer which are the legal newspapers in each of those counties you would see these ads which say, such and such law firm has been appointed the solicitor and so in so has been appointed the executor of this estate.
The law requires that the appointment of the executor and the existence of the estate be advertised for again a couple of good reasons. One is that if there were debts owed, that the creditors would come forward and make their claim against the estate, so you might be saying, well Dave, why waive a red flag in front of the bull. Again, if I’m representing you, you’re my client, you’re the executor, I want to make sure that you know about all those creditor’s claims because there is in Pennsylvania, there is a 4 to 6 year statute of limitations, so you don’t want somebody who put a new roof on your grandmom’s house if they didn’t get paid, you don’t want them showing up 3 years later with a valid claim if the estate administration is done.
So the law in Pennsylvania says that if you advertise this once a week for three weeks in a paper of general circulation and in the legal newspaper of the county which the decedent died, is somewhat complex, but most of the time the law firm again, will just handle this for them, but even if you don’t have a law office working for you, make sure you do this and you comply specifically with the law, because it then cuts off claims after one year, rather than, you know, three years, four years, five years, six years under the statute of limitations, and that’s very important for an executor to manage their liability exposure.
Something else trustees should know is that there is now similar process for trusts and that’s very dangerous to ignore because if you distribute all the money as a trustee, and you don’t hold back an escrow and claims crop up you could have a liability exposure there. So that is a reason in Pennsylvania at least, why sometimes executors have a little bit higher level of protection than trustees do distributing under a revocable living trust. So failure to advertise the estate isn’t always a good idea. Sometimes people do tell us they don’t want to, and we have them sign a release telling them that we’ve informed them to do it and they’re supposed to. But most of the time as the executor it costs you about $185 to do it in the two papers, it’s fully deductible, and most of the time, again, you’re being penny wise, pound foolish to skip that, because that could offer you significant, significant protection.
David M. Frees III Esq.
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