CUYAHOGA PROBATE COURT

Due to a high volume of filings, patrons may experience a delay in processing E-Filed documents. It is recommended that any time-sensitive documents be filed in-person.

Some filings required by Estate fiduciaries may be permitted an extension of time by written request. For more information regarding in-person filings, contact the Clerks Office at 216-443-8786. For information regarding extensions, contact the Accounts Department Supervisor at 216-443-8767.

Service

This information is provided to the public in order to provide a general understanding of service in relation to civil adversarial proceedings at Probate Court. This information should not be considered as a legal reference. If you have any legal questions regarding service, an attorney should be consulted.

What is an Instructions for Service form?

An Instructions/Request for Service Form, also referred to as a Praecipe for Service or Request for Service, is a form filed with the Court requesting the Court to serve documents on another party.

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When can an Instructions for Service form be used?

Use of Instructions for Service forms are limited to Probate Court Civil Adversarial (ADV) cases.

Based upon the instructions in the Form, the Clerk will prepare a Summons addressed to each party listed in the body of the form. The form can be used to instruct the Clerk to serve copies of original and amended complaints, third-party complaints, and cross-claims (cross-complaints), which will be attached to the Summons.

An Instructions for Service form is not required upon the filing of an original complaint.

Instructions for Service is required for pleadings including parties with incomplete or unknown names and/or addresses and a request for service by publication.

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What about Service by publication for parties with incomplete or unknown names and/or addresses?

If publication is required, file an Affidavit for Unknown Heirs and/or Affidavit for Unknown Addresses and note your request for service by publication on the Instructions for Service form.

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What about subsequent pleadings filed after the original complaint?

The attorney of record or the serving party must serve every pleading subsequent to the original complaint pursuant to Civ. R. 5, except for pleadings asserting new or additional claims for relief or additional damages against a party in default. Parties in default must be served in the manner provided for service of summons in Civ. R. 4 through Civ. R. 4.6.

If an Instructions form is not provided with any pleading filed subsequent to the original complaint, the attorney of record or serving party must provide a Certificate of Service in compliance with Civ. R. 5(B)(4).

Pursuant to Civ. R. 4.6(E), the attorney of record or the serving party is responsible for determining if service has been completed.

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How will the Court know who to serve?

The attorney of record or serving party must list the name and entire address of all parties to be served.

Service to PO Box addresses is limited to USPS certified and ordinary mail. Court-issued sheriff service on Citation to Produce Will and Concealment of Assets actions cannot include PO Box addresses.

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How will the Court know what documents should be served?

The attorney of record or serving party must identify the complaint or pleading, and the date filed, in the space provided on the Instructions form.

If E-Filed: the filing party must upload the Instructions for Service form with one digital copy of the complaint/petition of record, downloaded from the Court’s electronic docket.

If Filed on paper at the Clerk’s Office: the filing party must attach a copy of the document to the Instructions for Service, one copy for each party listed on the Instructions.

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What do the terms Alias and Pluries mean on this form?

An attorney of record or serving party must identify second, third, and later attempts by marking “Alias” (second attempt) or “Pluries” (third or later) on the Instructions form.

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How will the Court know what method to serve the documents?

An attorney of record or serving party must indicate a method of service for each Instruction submitted.

The methods of service are the following:

CERTIFIED MAIL Civ. R. 4.1(A)(1)(a)

Required for initial service of complaints or petitions, except Citation to Produce Will and Concealment of Assets actions.

If a pleading, such as an amended complaint, third-party complaint, or cross-claim, asserts new or additional claims for relief or for additional damages against a party in default for failure to appear, the pleading must be served upon the defaulting party in the manner provided for service of summons in Civ. R. 4 through Civ. R. 4.6.

Third-party complaints are claims in which a defending party acts as a third-party plaintiff and claims to be entitled to damages or other relief from a person not a party to the action. Civ. R. 14.

Cross-claims (cross-complaints) are claims asserted either between co-defendants or co-plaintiffs. Civ. R. 13.

Any new party defendants on an Amended Complaint must be served by certified mail.

ORDINARY MAIL Civ. R. 4.6(C), (D)

If an attempt at service by USPS certified mail is refused or unclaimed, the serving party may serve the document by ordinary mail.

If service of the original complaint was perfected by USPS certified mail on a party, then an Amended Complaint may be served by ordinary mail on that party.

PUBLICATION Civ. R. 4.4(A)(1)

A serving party must attach an Affidavit for Unknown Heirs and/or Unknown Addresses to the Instructions for Service form when requesting service by publication. The Affidavits are available on the Court’s web page and hard copy at the Clerk’s Office.

PERSONAL OR RESIDENTIAL SERVICE BY SHERIFF OF _______________ COUNTY

Indicate the County for all Ohio requests for Sheriff service. For out-of-state requests, list the state and county.

Note: The Probate Court will prepare Sheriff service on Complaints to Produce Will and Concealment of Assets actions.

A copy of the Citation and the Complaint to Produce Will must be personally served by the Sheriff of the county in which the person to be served is located. R.C. 2107.09.

A copy of the Citation and Complaint for Concealment of Assets must be personally served by the Sheriff of the county in which the person to be served is located. R.C. 2109.50.

Note: Many out-of-state counties require advance payment for Sheriff service. To ensure timely issuance of summons by Probate Court to those counties, the filing party should contact the Sheriff's office of the county of residence of the party to be served to identify the cost of service in that county. Then the filing party shall issue advance payment to the Cuyahoga County Probate Court Clerks Office, as needed, to be sent with the citation. Advance payment for out-of-state Sheriff service can be made by credit card, or attorney check or money order payable to Probate Court of Cuyahoga County.

PERSONAL OR RESIDENTIAL SERVICE BY PROCESS SERVER Civ. R. 4.1(B), (C)

A copy of the Entry granting a Motion to Serve by Process Server must be attached to the Instructions for Service form, or there must be a standing Order for Process Server on record with Probate Court.

Note: When filing a Motion to Serve by Process Server, the applicant shall certify the designated process server meets all the requirements as set forth in Civ. R. 4.1(D).

How can an attorney of record or filing party request a waiver of service pursuant to Civ. R. 4.7?

When a Plaintiff has commenced an action in this Court, in an effort to avoid unnecessary expenses of serving a summons and copy of the complaint, a Plaintiff may request a Defendant complete a Waiver of Service pursuant to Civ. R. 4.7.

A Plaintiff may file a Notice of Waiver of Summons at the same time the original complaint is filed to notify the Court that the Plaintiff is requesting a Waiver of Service from a party Defendant to the action. This form instructs the Clerk to withhold summons and service on that party. Multiple Defendants may be listed on the same Notice.

Please Note: Service by Probate Court is usually prepared and mailed on the same day the original complaint is filed, therefore, the Notice must be filed at the same time as the original complaint to be effective.

Should the Plaintiff fail to receive a Waiver of Service from a Defendant listed in the Notice of Waiver of Summons, the Plaintiff must file an Instructions for Service with the Court instructing the Court to serve the Defendant.

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