Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

The Proper Wording of a Death Notice

As the executor of my father's estate, I have been told that it is advisable to publish a "death notice" in a newspaper to alert possible creditors. Apparently this notice will limit the length of time creditors have to submit claims to the estate.

My questions are: 1. What would be the proper wording of such a death notice? 2. What length of time would creditors be allowed to make claims against the estate? 3. Where, how extensively, and/or how often should the notice be published?

P.S. My father's estate consisted of an annuity, which was promptly distributed to his beneficiaries, and a living trust, most of which has already been distributed, although I have set some funds aside for future claims to the estate.

P.P.S. I don't anticipate many, if any, additional claims. However, lingering medical expenses and taxes may be the most likely claimants.

Thanks for your attention.

Asked on 3/18/98, 10:35 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Marc Weissman Weiss & Weissman, Inc

Death Notice Requirement

Obituaries in the newspaper have no legal effect.

In order to do it right, a proper Notice specified by the Probate Code is required. That will cut the claims period down to 4 months instead of 1 year.

Regardless, you are required to make reasonable efforts to notify known creditors of the death. If you do not tell them the accelerated procedure does not help, and the 1 year rule applies.

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Answered on 3/25/98, 12:54 pm

Chris Johnson Christopher B. Johnson, Attorney at Law

Notice to Creditors (Living Trust)

There is an optional procedure for giving notice, which limits the creditors' time to make a claim to four months. You can find it at Probate Code sections 19000 and following, with the notice wording at 19040. You are required to give actual notice to any known creditors--the published notice affects only creditors you don't know about. If you do not use this procedure, there is a one-year statute of limitation on creditor claims.

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Answered on 3/25/98, 2:47 pm

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