• Law Office of Christopher R. Chicoine

How Do I Give Notice To Creditors In a Probate Case (Legal Publication and Actual Notice)

This article explores the two methods for giving notice to creditors of decedent’s passing and the opportunity to brings claims against the estate: (1) publishing legal notice to creditors; and (2) providing actual notice to creditors.

As explained in a prior post here, there is no technical requirement to give creditors notice. However, it is often wise to do so. Giving creditors notice of decedent’s death and the method to present claims against the estate creates a deadline by which claims must be made. If claims are made after the deadline, such claims are forever barred. The manner notice is given impacts the applicable deadline by which the creditor must present its claim.

If actual notice and legal publication is given, then the creditor has the later of 30 days from receipt of notice or 4 months from the date of first publication. If actual notice is not given but notice is published, the deadline depends on whether the creditor’s claim was reasonably ascertainable. If it was not reasonably ascertainable, the creditor has 4 months from the first date of publication by which it must file its claim. If the creditor’s claim was “reasonably ascertainable” and no actual notice is given, the creditor has 24 months from date of decedent’s death by which to file its claim. If neither legal publication nor actual notice is given, the creditor has 24 months from date of death to file its claim.

How to Give Actual Probate Notice to Creditors.

If notice to creditors is given it should be in substantially the following form using the appropriate court caption, announcing the personal representative’s appointment and requiring that persons having claims against the decedent present their claims within the time specified in RCW 11.40.051 or be forever barred as to claims against decedent’s probate and nonprobate assets:

The personal representative named below has been appointed as personal representative of this estate. Any person having a claim against the decedent must, before the time the claim would be barred by any otherwise applicable statute of limitations, present the claim in the manner as provided in RCW 11.40.070by serving on or mailing to the personal representative or the personal representative's attorney at the address stated below a copy of the claim and filing the original of the claim with the court in which the probate proceedings were commenced. The claim must be presented within the later of: (1) Thirty days after the personal representative served or mailed the notice to the creditor as provided under RCW 11.40.020(1)(c); or (2) four months after the date of first publication of the notice. If the claim is not presented within this time frame, the claim is forever barred, except as otherwise provided in RCW 11.40.051 and 11.40.060. This bar is effective as to claims against both the decedent's probate and nonprobate assets.

Date of First


Personal Representative:

Attorney for the Personal Representative:

Address for Mailing or Service:

Court of probate proceedings and cause number:

To provide actual notice to creditors, the foregoing notice must be served on the creditor or mailed to the creditor’s last known address by regular first-class mail, postage prepaid. RCW 11.40.020(1)(c).

Next, the notice must be provided to the Department of Social and Health Services, office of financial recovery with decedent’s social security number. RCW 11.40.020(1)(d).

Next, the notice must be filed in the probate case. RCW 11.40.020(1)(a).

Once notice is given, proof of giving notice must be filed in the probate case. This is done by completing an affidavit identifying the creditor that received notice, the manner of giving notice, and the address notice was sent to. RCW 11.40.020(1)(d).

How to Publish Legal Notice

If the personal representative publishes legal notice, then the time frame as to the creditor whose claim is not reasonably ascertainable is 4 months from the first date of publication. The publication must be a “legal publication.” The clerk of the superior court of each county must keep and post a list of approval legal publications. RCW 65.16.070.

For the King County Clerk’s list of legal publications, click here.

For the Snohomish County Clerk’s list of legal publications, click here.

Publish by emailing the legal publisher you select a word file of the notice to creditors described above. Once publication is complete (once per week for three consecutive weeks), the publisher should provide its affidavit of publication. This affidavit should be filed in the probate case.

Attorney, Chris Chicoine

Estate Planning and Probate

Christopher R. Chicoine, PLLC


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