20c3101h

 

 

CHAPTER 31

DISPOSITIONS INDEPENDENT OF LETTERS;

FAMILY EXEMPTION; PROBATE OF WILLS

AND GRANT OF LETTERS

 

Subchapter

A.  Dispositions Independent of Letters

B.  Family Exemption

C.  Probate

D.  Grant of Letters

E.  Personal Representative; Bond

F.  Personal Representative; Revocation of Letters; Removal and Discharge

 

Enactment.  Chapter 31 was added June 30, 1972, P.L.508, No.164, effective July 1, 1972.

 

 

SUBCHAPTER A

DISPOSITIONS INDEPENDENT OF LETTERS

 

Sec.

3101.  Payments to family and funeral directors.

3102.  Settlement of small estates on petition.

 

Cross References.  Subchapter A is referred to in section 3126 of this title.

20c3101s

§ 3101.  Payments to family and funeral directors.

(a)  Wages, salary or employee benefits.--Any employer of a person dying domiciled in this Commonwealth at any time after the death of the employee, whether or not a personal representative has been appointed, may pay wages, salary or any employee benefits due the deceased in an amount not exceeding $10,000 to the spouse, any child, the father or mother, or any sister or brother (preference being given in the order named) of the deceased employee. Any employer making such a payment shall be released to the same extent as if payment had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and he shall not be required to see to the application thereof. Any person to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.

(b)  Deposit account.--Any bank, savings association, savings and loan association, building and loan association, credit union or other savings organization, at any time after the death of a depositor, member or certificate holder, shall pay the amount on deposit or represented by the certificate, when the total standing to the credit of the decedent in that institution does not exceed $10,000, to the spouse, any child, the father or mother or any sister or brother (preference being given in the order named) of the deceased depositor, member or certificate holder, provided that a receipted funeral bill or an affidavit, executed by a licensed funeral director which sets forth that satisfactory arrangements for payment of funeral services have been made, is presented. Any bank, association, credit union or other savings organization making such a payment shall be released to the same extent as if payment had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and it shall not be required to see to the application thereof. Any person to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.

(c)  Patient's care account.--When the decedent was a qualified recipient of medical assistance from the Department of Public Welfare, the facility in which he was a patient may make payment of funds, if any, remaining in the patient's care account, for the decedent's burial expenses to a licensed funeral director in an amount not exceeding $10,000 whether or not a personal representative has been appointed. After the payment of decedent's burial expenses, the facility may pay the balance of decedent's patient's care account, as long as the payments, including the payment for burial expenses, does not exceed $10,000, to the spouse, any child, the father or mother or any sister or brother (preference being given in the order named) of the deceased patient. Any facility making such a payment shall be released to the same extent as if payment had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and it shall not be required to see to the application thereof. Any licensed funeral director or other person to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.

(d)  Life insurance payable to estate.--Any insurance company which upon the death of an individual residing in this Commonwealth owes his estate a total amount of $11,000 or less under any policy of life, endowment, accident or health insurance, or under any annuity or pure endowment contract, may at any time after 60 days following his death pay all or any part of that amount to the spouse, any child, the father or mother or any sister or brother of the decedent (preference being given in the order named) provided that at the time of the payment no written claim for that money has been received at the office of the company specified in the policy or contract for the receipt of claims from any duly appointed personal representative of the decedent. Any insurance company making any payment in accordance with this section to an adult may rely on the affidavit of any of the persons named in this subsection concerning the existence and relationship of these persons and shall be released to the same extent as if payment had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and the insurance company shall not be required to see to the application thereof. Any person to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefor to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.

(e)  Unclaimed property.--

(1)  In any case where property or funds owned by an individual who has died a resident of this Commonwealth have been reported to the Commonwealth and are in the custody of the State Treasurer as unclaimed or abandoned property, the State Treasurer, at any time after the death of the individual, shall be authorized under this section to distribute the property or to pay the amount being held in custody where all of the following conditions are present:

(i)  The amount of the funds or the value of the property is $11,000 or less.

(ii)  The person claiming the property or the funds is the surviving spouse, child, mother or father, or sister or brother of the decedent, with preference given in that order.

(iii)  A personal representative of the decedent has not been appointed or five years have lapsed since the appointment of a personal representative of the decedent.

(2)  Upon being presented with a claim for property owned by a decedent, the State Treasurer shall require the person claiming the property to provide all of the following prior to distributing the property or paying the amount held in custody:

(i)  A certified death certificate of the owner.

(ii)  A sworn affidavit under the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) setting forth the relationship of the claimant to the decedent, the existence or nonexistence of a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and any other persons that may be entitled under this section to make a claim to the decedent's property.

(iii)  Other information determined by the State Treasurer to be necessary in order to distribute property or pay funds under this section to the proper person.

(3)  If the State Treasurer determines the claimant to be a person entitled to claim property of a decedent owner, the State Treasurer shall pay or distribute such property to the claimant and shall thereby be released to the same extent as if payment or distribution had been made to a duly appointed personal representative of the decedent and shall not be required to oversee the application of the payments made. Any claimant to whom payment is made shall be answerable therefore to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution or payment.

20c3101v

(May 10, 1974, P.L.282, No.84, eff. imd.; Dec. 19, 1975, P.L.598, No.168, eff. imd.; July 9, 1976, P.L.551, No.135, eff. imd.; July 11, 1980, P.L.565, No.118, eff. 60 days; Feb. 18, 1982, P.L.45, No.26, eff. imd.; June 28, 1993, P.L.181, No.38, eff. imd.; Dec. 1, 1994, P.L.655, No.102, eff. 60 days; June 28, 2002, P.L.478, No.80, eff. imd.; July 2, 2013, P.L.199, No.35, eff. 60 days; Oct. 30, 2017, P.L.417, No.41, eff. 60 days)

 

2017 Amendment.  Act 41 amended subsec. (a).

2013 Amendment.  Act 35 amended subsecs. (b) and (c). Section 2 of Act 35 provided that the amendment of subsecs. (b) and (c) shall apply to estates of decedents dying on or after the effective date of section 2.

2002 Amendment.  Act 80 added subsec. (e).

1982 Amendment.  Act 26 amended subsec. (c) and added subsec. (d).

References in Text.  The Department of Public Welfare, referred to in this section, was redesignated as the Department of Human Services by Act 132 of 2014.

Cross References.  Section 3101 is referred to in section 3102 of this title.

20c3102s

§ 3102.  Settlement of small estates on petition.

When any person dies domiciled in the Commonwealth owning property (exclusive of real estate and of property payable under section 3101 (relating to payments to family and funeral directors), but including personal property claimed as the family exemption) of a gross value not exceeding $50,000, the orphans' court division of the county wherein the decedent was domiciled at the time of his death, upon petition of any party in interest, in its discretion, with or without appraisement, and with such notice as the court shall direct, and whether or not letters have been issued or a will probated, may direct distribution of the property (including property not paid under section 3101) to the parties entitled thereto. The authority of the court to award distribution of personal property under this section shall not be restricted because of the decedent's ownership of real estate, regardless of its value. The decree of distribution so made shall constitute sufficient authority to all transfer agents, registrars and others dealing with the property of the estate to recognize the persons named therein as entitled to receive the property to be distributed without administration, and shall in all respects have the same effect as a decree of distribution after an accounting by a personal representative. Within one year after such a decree of distribution has been made, any party in interest may file a petition to revoke it because an improper distribution has been ordered. If the court shall find that an improper distribution has been ordered, it shall revoke the decree and shall direct restitution as equity and justice shall require.

20c3102v

(Dec. 10, 1974, P.L.867, No.293, eff. imd.; July 11, 1980, P.L.565, No.118, eff. 60 days; Dec. 1, 1994, P.L.655, No.102, eff. 60 days; July 2, 2013, P.L.199, No.35, eff. 60 days)

 

2013 Amendment.  Section 2 of Act 35 provided that the amendment of section 3102 shall apply to estates of decedents dying on or after the effective date of section 2.

20c3121h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER B

FAMILY EXEMPTION

 

Sec.

3121.  When allowable.

3122.  Payment or delivery of exemption.

3123.  Payment from real estate.

3124.  Income.

3125.  Other remedies.

3126.  Grantee or lienholder.

20c3121s

§ 3121.  When allowable.

The spouse of any decedent dying domiciled in the Commonwealth, and if there be no spouse, or if he has forfeited his rights, then such children as are members of the same household as the decedent, and in the event there are no such children, then the parent or parents of the decedent who are members of the same household as the decedent, may retain or claim as an exemption either real or personal property, or both, not theretofore sold by the personal representative, to the value of $3,500: Provided, That property specifically devised or bequeathed by the decedent, or otherwise specifically disposed of by him, may not be so retained or claimed if other assets are available for the exemption. The surviving husband or wife shall be a competent witness as to all matters pertinent to the issue of forfeiture of the right to exemption.

20c3121v

(June 27, 1974, P.L.383, No.130, eff. imd.; Dec. 1, 1994, P.L.655, No.102, eff. 60 days)

20c3122s

§ 3122.  Payment or delivery of exemption.

(a)  Items claimed.--The personal representative, if any, shall deliver to the spouse, child or children, parent or parents, the items of personal property claimed as the exemption, at the values fixed by the inventory and appraisement.

(b)  Property set aside for minors or incapacitated persons.--When any spouse, child or parent entitled to all or part of the exemption is a minor or an incapacitated person, the guardian of his estate, and if no such guardian has been appointed then the personal representative, without request made to him by anyone, shall select, for the use and benefit of the minor or incapacitated person, real or personal property to the full value to which he is entitled, and in so doing the guardian or personal representative shall be governed by the necessities of the minor or incapacitated person in the circumstances of each case.

(c)  Control of court.--On petition of any party in interest, the court, with or without appraisal and on such notice as it shall direct, may control the distribution and the valuation of articles of personal property retained or claimed.

20c3122v

(Dec. 10, 1974, P.L.867, No.293, eff. imd.; Apr. 16, 1992, P.L.108, No.24, eff. 60 days)

 

1992 Amendment.  Act 24 amended subsec. (b). See section 21 of Act 24 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability.

20c3123s

§ 3123.  Payment from real estate.

(a)  Appraisement.--If the exemption is claimed in whole or in part out of real estate, the appraisement of the real estate shall be made by two appraisers appointed by the court, upon petition and after such notice as the court shall direct. The orphans' court division of the county where letters testamentary or of administration have been granted, or should no letters have been granted then of the county within which was the family or principal residence of the decedent, shall have jurisdiction concerning the exemption, whether the real estate is situate in that county or in any other county of the Commonwealth. When real estate is located outside of the county of original jurisdiction, the orphans' court division of the county of original jurisdiction may, in its discretion, direct that an application for the appointment of appraisers shall be made to the orphans' court division of the county in which the real estate is located. The appraisers so appointed shall fix the value of the real estate as of the date of presenting the petition for their appointment and shall receive such compensation as shall be allowed by the court appointing them. Exceptions to appraisements shall be filed with the court of original jurisdiction which may, in its discretion, refer the exceptions to the orphans' court division of the county in which the real estate is located. Upon compliance with such requirements of notice as the court shall direct, the court of original jurisdiction may confirm the appraisement and set apart the real estate to the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents entitled thereto.

(b)  Real estate valued at more than amount claimed.--When the real estate of the decedent cannot be divided so as to set apart the amount claimed without prejudice to or spoiling the whole or any parcel of it and the appraisers shall value such real estate or parcel thereof at any sum exceeding the amount claimed, it shall be lawful for the orphans' court division of original jurisdiction to confirm the appraisement and to set apart such real estate or parcel thereof for the use of the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents, conditioned, however, that the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents shall pay the amount of the valuation in excess of the amount claimed, without interest, within six months from the date of confirmation of the appraisement. If the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents shall refuse to take the real estate or parcel thereof at the appraisement, or shall fail to make payment as provided above, the court, on application of any party in interest, may direct the personal representative or a trustee appointed by the court to sell the same and the sale in such case shall be upon such terms and security as the court shall direct.

(c)  Payment of surplus.--The real estate, if taken by the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents, shall vest in him or them, upon his or their payment of the surplus above so much of the exemption as shall be claimed out of the real estate to the parties entitled thereto or to the personal representative of the decedent, as the court, in its discretion, shall direct. If the real estate is sold, so much of the exemption as shall be claimed out of it shall be paid out of the purchase money to the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents entitled thereto, and the balance, after payment of costs, shall be distributed to the parties entitled thereto or to the personal representative of the decedent, as the court, in its discretion, shall direct.

(d)  Recording and registering decrees.--A certified copy of every decree confirming an appraisement of real estate and setting it apart to the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents shall be recorded in the deed book in the office of the recorder of deeds of each county where the real estate shall lie, shall be indexed by the recorder in the grantor's index under the name of the decedent and in the grantee's index under the name of such surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents, and shall be registered in the survey bureau or with the proper authorities empowered to keep a register of real estate in the county: Provided, That no decree conditioned upon payment of any surplus by the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents shall be recorded or registered unless there is offered for recording, concurrently therewith, written evidence of the payment of such surplus.

(e)  Costs and expenses.--All costs, appraisers' fees and expenses of recording and registering incurred in claiming the exemption shall be part of the general administration expenses of the estate.

20c3124s

§ 3124.  Income.

When the family exemption does not exhaust the entire real and personal estate, the income of the estate shall be equitably prorated among the surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents and the others taking the estate.

20c3125s

§ 3125.  Other remedies.

The surviving spouse, child or children, parent or parents may also collect the exemption out of real and personal estate, together with income thereon, in the manner provided by law for the collection of legacies.

20c3126s

§ 3126.  Grantee or lienholder.

(a)  Rights accruing before death; purchase money obligation.--Nothing in Subchapter A of this chapter (relating to dispositions independent of letters) and this subchapter shall be construed as impairing any lien existing at death for the purchase money of real estate.

(b)  Rights accruing after death.--A decree setting apart a family exemption shall be void as against a subsequent bona fide grantee of, or holder of a lien on, real estate, unless the decree granting the exemption from real estate, or a duplicate original or certified copy thereof, is recorded in the deed book in the office of the recorder of deeds in the county in which the real estate lies, within one year after the death of the decedent, or, if thereafter, then before the recording or entering of the instrument or lien under which such grantee or lienholder claims.

20c3131h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER C

PROBATE

 

Sec.

3131.  Place of probate.

3132.  Manner of probate.

3132.1. Self-proved wills.

3133.  Limit of time for probate.

3134.  Nuncupative wills (Repealed).

3135.  Wills in foreign language.

3136.  Wills probated outside the Commonwealth.

3137.  Enforcing production of will.

3138.  Later will or codicil.

20c3131s

§ 3131.  Place of probate.

The will of a decedent domiciled in the Commonwealth at the time of his death shall be probated only before the register of the county where the decedent had his last family or principal residence. If the decedent had no domicile in the Commonwealth, his will may be probated before the register of any county where any of his property is located.

20c3132s

§ 3132.  Manner of probate.

All wills shall be proved by the oaths or affirmations of two competent witnesses and

(1)  Will signed by testator.--In the case of a will to which the testator signed his name, proof by subscribing witnesses, if there are such, shall be preferred to the extent that they are readily available, and proof of the signature of the testator shall be preferred to proof of the signature of a subscribing witness.

(2)  Will signed by mark or by another.--In the case of a will signed by mark or by another in behalf of the testator, the proof must be by subscribing witnesses, except to the extent that the register is satisfied that such proof cannot be adduced by the exercise of reasonable diligence. In that event other proof of the execution of the will, including proof of the subscribers' signatures, may be accepted, and proof of the signature of a witness who has subscribed to an attestation clause shall be prima facie proof that the facts recited in the attestation clause are true.

(3)  Nuncupative will.--(Repealed).

20c3132v

(Dec. 10, 1974, P.L.867, No.293, eff. imd.)

 

1974 Repeal.  Act 293 repealed par. (3).

20c3132.1s

§ 3132.1.  Self-proved wills.

(a)  Proof.--Unless there is a contest with respect to the validity of the will, or unless the will is signed by mark or by another as provided in section 2502 (relating to form and execution of a will), an affidavit of witness made in conformity with this section shall be accepted by the register as proof of the facts stated as if it had been made under oath before the register at the time of probate.

(b)  Acknowledgment and affidavits.--An attested will may at the time of its execution or at any subsequent date be made self-proved by the acknowledgment thereof by the testator and the affidavits of the witnesses, each made before an officer authorized to administer oaths under the laws of this Commonwealth or under the laws of the state where execution occurs, or made before an attorney at law and certified to such an officer as provided in subsection (c) and evidenced, in either case, by the officer's certificate, under official seal, attached or annexed to the will. A separate affidavit may be used for each witness whose affidavit is not taken at the same time as the testator's acknowledgment. The acknowledgment and affidavits shall in form and content be substantially as set forth in the Uniform Probate Code or as follows:

 

Acknowledgment

 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (or State of ____________)

County of ____________

I, ________________, the testator whose name is signed to the attached or foregoing instrument, having been duly qualified according to law, do hereby acknowledge that I signed and executed the instrument as my Last Will; and that I signed it willingly and as my free and voluntary act for the purposes therein expressed.

Sworn to or affirmed and acknowledged before me

by ____________________________, the testator, this ______

day of _____________, 19____.

________________________________

(Testator)

________________________________

(Signature of officer or attorney)

(Seal and official capacity of

officer or state of admission of

attorney)

 

Affidavit

 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (or State of ____________)

County of ____________

We (or I), ________________ and ________________, the witness(es) whose name(s) are (is) signed to the attached or foregoing instrument, being duly qualified according to law, do depose and say that we were (I was) present and saw the testator sign and execute the instrument as his Last Will; that the testator signed willingly and executed it as his free and voluntary act for the purposes therein expressed; that each subscribing witness in the hearing and sight of the testator signed the will as a witness; and that to the best of our (my) knowledge the testator was at that time 18 or more years of age, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.

Sworn to or affirmed and subscribed to before me

by ________________ and ________________, witness(es), this

______ day of ______________, 19____.

________________________________

Witness

________________________________

Witness

________________________________

________________________________

(Signature of officer or attorney)

(Seal and official capacity of

officer or state of admission of

attorney)

(c)  Acknowledgment and affidavit taken before an attorney at law.--The acknowledgment of the testator and the affidavit of a witness required by subsection (b) may be made before a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or of the highest court of the state in which execution of the will occurs who certifies to an officer authorized to administer oaths that the acknowledgment and affidavit was made before him. In such case, in addition to the acknowledgment and affidavit required by subsection (b), the attorney's certification shall be evidenced by the officer before whom it was made substantially as follows:

 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (or State of ____________)

County of ____________

On this, the ________________ day of _______________, 19____, before me _________________, the undersigned officer, personally appeared ________________, known to me or satisfactorily proven to be a member of the bar of the highest court of (Pennsylvania or the state in which execution of the will took place), and certified that he was personally present when the foregoing acknowledgment and affidavit were signed by the testator and witnesses.

In witness whereof, I hereunto set my hand and official seal.

_____________________________

(Signature, seal and official

capacity of officer)

20c3132.1v

(June 24, 1976, P.L.434, No.105, eff. 60 days; Feb. 18, 1982, P.L.45, No.26, eff. imd.; Oct. 12, 1984, P.L.929, No.182, eff. imd.)

 

Cross References.  Section 3132.1 is referred to in section 6204 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure).

20c3133s

§ 3133.  Limit of time for probate.

(a)  Original probate.--A will may be offered for probate at any time.

(b)  Conclusiveness of original probate.--The probate of a will shall be conclusive as to all property, real or personal, devised or bequeathed by it, unless an appeal shall be taken from probate as provided in section 908 (relating to appeals), or the probate record shall have been amended as authorized by section 3138 (relating to later will or codicil).

(c)  Effect upon grantee or lienholder.--A will offered for original or subsequent probate more than one year after the testator's death shall be void against a bona fide grantee or holder of a lien on real estate of the testator if the conveyance or lien is entered of record before the will is offered for probate.

20c3133v

(Dec. 10, 1974, P.L.867, No.293, eff. imd.; July 11, 1980, P.L.565, No.118, eff. 60 days)

 

1980 Amendment.  Act 118 amended subsec. (c).

1974 Amendment.  Act 293 amended subsec. (a).

20c3134s

§ 3134.  Nuncupative wills (Repealed).

20c3134v

 

1974 Repeal.  Section 3134 was repealed December 10, 1974, P.L.867, No.293, effective immediately.

20c3135s

§ 3135.  Wills in foreign language.

A writing not in English shall not be filed for probate or for any other purpose in the office of the register unless there is attached to it and filed with it a translation into English, sworn to be correct. The register shall attach the translation to the original and shall file them in his office, and in all cases where a recording is now or hereafter may be required, both the original and the translation shall be recorded. A writing filed in violation of this section shall not constitute notice to any person.

20c3136s

§ 3136.  Wills probated outside the Commonwealth.

A duly authenticated copy of a will proved outside of the Commonwealth according to the law of the place of probate may be offered for probate before any register having jurisdiction, and letters testamentary or of administration with a will annexed may be granted thereon as though the original will had been offered before such register. If, in addition to such copy, there shall be produced a duly authenticated copy of the record of the probate proceeding of the original instrument, the will shall be entitled to probate in this Commonwealth and appropriate letters shall be issued thereon without the production or examination of the witnesses to prove such will, unless the will was probated outside of the United States and the record shows or it is satisfactorily proved that an essential requirement of Pennsylvania law for a valid will has not been met. If the will was probated outside of the United States, the probate proceedings may be supplemented by the submission of additional evidence to the register.

20c3137s

§ 3137.  Enforcing production of will.

The register, at the request of any party in interest, shall issue a citation directed to any person alleged to have possession or control of a will of a decedent requiring him to show cause why it should not be deposited with him. In the absence of good cause shown, the register shall order the will to be deposited with him.

20c3137v

(Dec. 10, 1974, P.L.867, No.293, eff. imd.)

20c3138s

§ 3138.  Later will or codicil.

If a later will or codicil is submitted to the register for probate within three months of the testator's death but after the register shall have probated an earlier instrument, the register, after such notice as he deems advisable, but with at least ten-days' notice to the petitioner who presented the probated instrument if he has not requested probate of the later will or codicil, shall have power to open the probate record, receive proof of the later instrument or instruments and amend his probate record.

20c3138v

 

Cross References.  Section 3138 is referred to in section 3133 of this title.

20c3151h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER D

GRANT OF LETTERS

 

Sec.

3151.  Proper county.

3152.  When 21 years elapsed.

3153.  Contents of petition.

3154.  Affidavit and oath.

3155.  Persons entitled.

3156.  Persons not qualified.

3157.  Nonresidents.

3158.  Letters of administration C.T.A.

3159.  Letters of administration D.B.N. or D.B.N.C.T.A.

3160.  Letters of administration durante minoritate, durante absentia, and pendente lite.

3161.  Oath of personal representative.

3162.  Advertisement of grant of letters.
3163.  Submission to jurisdiction.

20c3151s

§ 3151.  Proper county.

Letters testamentary or of administration on the estate of a decedent domiciled in the Commonwealth at the time of his death shall be granted only by the register of the county where the decedent had his last family or principal residence. If the decedent had no such domicile in the Commonwealth, letters testamentary or of administration may be granted by the register of any county wherein property of the estate shall be located and, when granted, shall be exclusive throughout the Commonwealth. If the decedent had no such domicile in the Commonwealth, and had no property located therein, and service of process is to be made in the Commonwealth upon his personal representative as authorized by law, then letters testamentary or of administration on his estate may be granted by the register of any county of the Commonwealth and, when granted, shall be exclusive throughout the Commonwealth.

20c3152s

§ 3152.  When 21 years elapsed.

Letters testamentary or of administration shall not be granted after the expiration of 21 years from the decedent's death, except on the order of the court, upon cause shown.

20c3153s

§ 3153.  Contents of petition.

A petition for the grant of letters testamentary or of administration shall state, under oath, so far as they are known:

(1)  The decedent's name, age, state or country of domicile, his last family or principal residence, and the place and day of his death.

(2)  If the decedent died intestate, the name and residence address of the surviving spouse, if any, and the names, relationships and residence addresses of other heirs.

(3)  If the decedent died testate, whether the will was modified by the occurrence of any of the circumstances delineated in section 2507 (relating to modification by circumstances).

(4)  If the decedent was domiciled in the Commonwealth at the time of his death, the estimated value of all his personal property, and the estimated value and the location of his real property situated in the Commonwealth.

(5)  If the decedent was not domiciled in the Commonwealth at the time of his death, the estimated value of his personal property in the Commonwealth, the estimated value of his personal property in the county in which the petition is filed, and the estimated value and location of his real property in the Commonwealth.

(6)  The name and residence address of each person to whom letters are requested to be granted.

(7)  Any other facts necessary to entitle the petitioner to letters.

20c3153v

(Dec. 10, 1974, P.L.867, No.293, eff. imd.; July 11, 1980, P.L.565, No.118, eff. 60 days)

 

1980 Amendment.  Act 118 amended par. (1).

1974 Amendment.  Act 293 amended par. (3).

20c3154s

§ 3154.  Affidavit and oath.

(a)  Fiduciary and witness.--The affidavit to a petition for the grant of letters and the oath of the fiduciary relative to the performance of his duties and, except as provided in subsection (b), the oath of a witness relative to probate of a will shall be taken before and administered by:

(1)  Within the Commonwealth.--The register of any county of the Commonwealth.

(2)  Outside of the Commonwealth.--A public officer of another jurisdiction having duties similar to those of a register who has been authorized to do so by the register of the county where the application for letters is to be made.

(b)  Subscribing witness.--Unless there is a contest with respect to the validity of the will or unless the will is signed by mark or by another under section 2502(2) or (3) (relating to form and execution of a will), the oath of a subscribing witness relative to probate of a will may be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths under the laws of this Commonwealth or under the laws of another state.

20c3154v

(July 14, 1988, P.L.553, No.99, eff. imd.)

 

Cross References.  Section 3154 is referred to in section 911 of this title.

20c3155s

§ 3155.  Persons entitled.

(a)  Letters testamentary.--Letters testamentary shall be granted by the register to the executor designated in the will, whether or not he has declined a trust under the will.

(b)  Letters of administration.--Letters of administration shall be granted by the register, in such form as the case shall require, to one or more of those hereinafter mentioned and, except for good cause, in the following order:

(1)  Those entitled to the residuary estate under the will.

(2)  The surviving spouse.

(3)  Those entitled under the intestate law as the register, in his discretion, shall judge will best administer the estate, giving preference, however, according to the sizes of the shares of those in this class.

(4)  The principal creditors of the decedent at the time of his death.

(5)  Other fit persons.

(6)  If anyone of the foregoing shall renounce his right to letters of administration, the register, in his discretion, may appoint a nominee of the person so renouncing in preference to the persons set forth in any succeeding paragraph.

(7)  A guardianship support agency serving as guardian of an incapacitated person who dies during the guardianship administered pursuant to Subchapter F of Chapter 55 (relating to guardianship support).

(8)  A redevelopment authority formed pursuant to the act of May 24, 1945 (P.L.991, No.385), known as the Urban Redevelopment Law.

(c)  Time limitation.--Except with the consent of those enumerated in paragraphs (1), (2) and (3), no letters shall be issued to those enumerated in paragraph (4), (5) or (8) of subsection (b) until 30 days after the decedent's death.

(d)  Death charges.--Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b), the register shall not grant letters testamentary or letters of administration to any person charged, whether by indictment, information or otherwise, by the United States, the Commonwealth or any of the several states, with voluntary manslaughter or homicide, except homicide by vehicle, in connection with a decedent's death unless and until the charge is withdrawn, dismissed or a verdict of not guilty is returned.

20c3155v

(Apr. 16, 1992, P.L.108, No.24, eff. 60 days; Dec. 20, 2000, P.L.838, No.118, eff. 60 days; Nov. 29, 2006, P.L.1536, No.171, eff. 60 days)

 

Cross References.  Section 3155 is referred to in sections 3181, 3182 of this title.

20c3156s

§ 3156.  Persons not qualified.

No person shall be qualified to serve as a personal representative who is:

(1)  Under 18 years of age.

(2)  A corporation not authorized to act as fiduciary in the Commonwealth.

(3)  A person, other than an executor designated by name or description in the will, found by the register to be unfit to be entrusted with the administration of the estate.

(4)  The nominee of any beneficiary, legatee or person having any interest whatsoever, when such beneficiary, legatee or person is a citizen or resident of any country outside the territorial limits or possessions of the United States, when it shall appear doubtful to the register that in the distribution of the estate any such person will have the actual benefit, use, enjoyment or control of the money or other property representing his share or interest therein.

(5)  Charged, whether by indictment, information or otherwise, by the United States, the Commonwealth or any of the several states, with voluntary manslaughter or homicide, except homicide by vehicle, in connection with a decedent's death unless and until the charge is withdrawn, dismissed or a verdict of not guilty is returned.

20c3156v

(Dec. 6, 1972, P.L.1461, No.331; Dec. 20, 2000, P.L.838, No.118, eff. 60 days)

 

2000 Amendment.  Act 118 added par. (5).

1972 Amendment.  Act 331 amended par. (1).

Cross References.  Section 3156 is referred to in sections 3181, 3182 of this title.

20c3157s

§ 3157.  Nonresidents.

The register shall have discretion to refuse letters of administration to any individual not a resident of this Commonwealth.

20c3157v

(Apr. 28, 1978, P.L.202, No.53, eff. 60 days)

20c3158s

§ 3158.  Letters of administration C.T.A.

When there is a will, but no executor qualifies, letters of administration cum testamento annexo may be granted to the person or persons entitled thereto.

20c3159s

§ 3159.  Letters of administration D.B.N. or D.B.N.C.T.A.

When an entire vacancy occurs in the office of personal representative before administration is completed, the register, in a case of intestacy, shall grant letters of administration de bonis non, and in the case of testacy, letters de bonis non cum testamento annexo, to the person or persons entitled thereto.

20c3160s

§ 3160.  Letters of administration durante minoritate, durante absentia, and pendente lite.

Whenever the circumstances of the case require, letters of administration durante minoritate, durante absentia, or pendente lite may be granted to any fit person or persons, after such notice, if any, as the register shall require.

20c3161s

§ 3161.  Oath of personal representative.

Before letters shall be granted to a personal representative by the register, the personal representative shall swear that he will well and truly administer the estate according to law. The oath of a corporate personal representative may be taken by any of its officers.

20c3162s

§ 3162.  Advertisement of grant of letters.

(a)  Notice generally.--The personal representative, immediately after the grant of letters, shall cause notice thereof to be given in one newspaper of general circulation published at or near the place where the decedent resided or, in the case of a nonresident decedent, at or near the place where the letters were granted, and in the legal periodical, if any, designated by rule of court for the publication of legal notices, once a week for three successive weeks, together with his name and address; and in every such notice, he shall request all persons having claims against the estate of the decedent to make known the same to him or his attorney, and all persons indebted to the decedent to make payment to him without delay.

(b)  Proofs of advertisement to trustee.--A personal representative who has advertised the grant of letters and received the notice required by section 7780.3(c) (relating to duty to inform and report) shall promptly send copies of the proofs of that advertisement to the trustee.

20c3162v

(Apr. 28, 1978, P.L.77, No.37, eff. 60 days; Oct. 27, 2010, P.L.837, No.85, eff. 60 days)

 

Cross References.  Section 3162 is referred to in section 7755 of this title.

20c3163s

§ 3163.  Submission to jurisdiction.

(a)  General rule.--By accepting appointment by the register of wills, the personal representative submits personally to the jurisdiction of the orphans' court division of the county where letters testamentary or letters of administration are granted in all matters involving the performance of the personal representative's duties as personal representative, and an action by any interested party seeking an accounting by, or removal of, the personal representative, or alleging breach of duty by the personal representative, shall be commenced by notice to the personal representative.

(b)  Criminal contempt.--Notwithstanding subsection (a), no personal representative shall be held in criminal contempt of an order of the orphans' court division without the prior issuance of a citation and service of process.

20c3163v

(July 8, 2016, P.L.497, No.79, eff. Jan. 1, 2017)

 

2016 Amendment.  Act 79 added section 3163.

20c3171h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER E

PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE; BOND

 

Sec.

3171.  Individual estate.

3172.  Register's responsibility.

3173.  Fiduciary estate.

3174.  When not required.

3175.  Requiring or changing amount of bond.

20c3171s

§ 3171.  Individual estate.

Except as hereinafter provided, before letters shall be granted to any personal representative, he shall execute and file a bond which shall be in the name of the Commonwealth, with sufficient surety, in such amount as the register considers necessary, having regard to the value of the personal estate which will come into the control of the personal representative, and conditioned in the following form:

(1)  When one personal representative.--The condition of this obligation is, that if the said personal representative shall well and truly administer the estate according to law, this obligation shall be void; but otherwise, it shall remain in force.

(2)  When two or more personal representatives.--The condition of this obligation is, that if the said personal representatives or any of them shall well and truly administer the estate according to law, this obligation shall be void as to the personal representative or representatives who shall so administer the estate; but otherwise, it shall remain in force.

20c3172s

§ 3172.  Register's responsibility.

If any register shall grant letters without having taken such bond as is required by law, he and his surety shall be liable to pay all damages which shall accrue to any person by reason thereof. Nothing herein stated shall be deemed to relieve the personal representative from liability which would otherwise be imposed upon him by law.

20c3173s

§ 3173.  Fiduciary estate.

The register, in his discretion, upon the application of any party in interest, in addition to any bond required for the decedent's individual estate, may require a separate bond in the name of the Commonwealth, with sufficient surety, in such amount as the register shall consider necessary for the protection of the parties in interest in an estate of which the decedent was a fiduciary, and conditioned in the following form:

(1)  When one personal representative.--The condition of this obligation is, that if the said personal representative shall well and truly account for property held by the decedent as fiduciary according to law, this obligation shall be void; but otherwise, it shall remain in force.

(2)  When two or more personal representatives.--The condition of this obligation is, that if the said personal representatives or any of them shall well and truly account for property held by the decedent as fiduciary according to law, this obligation shall be void as to the personal representative or representatives who shall so account; but otherwise, it shall remain in force.

20c3174s

§ 3174.  When not required.

(a)  Corporate personal representative.--No bond shall be required of:

(1)  A bank and trust company or of a trust company incorporated in this Commonwealth.

(2)  A national bank having its principal office in this Commonwealth.

(3)  A foreign corporate fiduciary or a national bank having its principal office out of this Commonwealth, otherwise qualified to act if the laws of the state in which it is incorporated or in which the national bank is located provide a similar exemption for corporations existing under the laws of this Commonwealth.

(b)  Individual personal representative.--Unless a bond is ordered by the court or is required by the will, if any, no bond shall be required of an individual personal representative who:

(1)  Is named in the will as an original or successor personal representative and:

(i)  is a resident of this Commonwealth;

(ii)  has been excused from filing a bond by the express direction of the testator in his will; or

(iii)  is not a resident of this Commonwealth but will serve with a resident co-personal representative of whom no bond is required if the petition for letters includes an averment that all assets will remain in the custody and control of the resident co-personal representative.

(2)  Is not named in the will, if any, as an original or successor personal representative but is a resident of this Commonwealth and is either the sole residuary legatee or next of kin or is the nominee of all residuary legatees or next of kin who are adult and sui juris.

20c3174v

(July 9, 1976, P.L.551, No.135, eff. imd.; Apr. 18, 1978, P.L.42, No.23, eff. 60 days; July 11, 1980, P.L.565, No.118, eff. 60 days)

20c3175s

§ 3175.  Requiring or changing amount of bond.

(a)  By the court.--The court, upon cause shown and after such notice, if any, as it shall direct, may require a surety bond, or increase or decrease the amount of an existing bond, or require more or less security therefor.

(b)  By the register.--

(1)  If, after examining the inventory or inheritance tax return, the register determines that the register has required insufficient security, the register may direct the personal representative to post additional security.

(2)  The personal representative shall post such additional security as the register may reasonably require.

(3)  Subject to paragraph (4), in the event the personal representative fails or refuses to post the additional security, the register shall refer the matter to the court for appropriate enforcement.

(4)  If the register requires additional security and the personal representative obtains a waiver from all parties in interest to the estate, the personal representative may elect to not post additional security, and the register shall be released and held harmless from any and all liability related to the personal representative's failure to post the security.

(5)  A waiver under paragraph (4) must be signed on a form provided by the register subject to 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) and contain, at a minimum, all of the following information:

(i)  The name and address of the beneficiary.

(ii)  The name of the decedent.

(iii)  The estate's file number.

(iv)  The name and address of each personal representative.

(v)  A list of distributions that have been made to beneficiaries to date.

(vi)  The amount of additional security requested by the register.

(vii)  An estimate by the administrator of the amount of time necessary to complete the administration of the estate from the date of the waiver.

(c)  Construction.--Nothing in this section may be construed as creating any liability of a register or the register's surety to any person for the register's failure to require additional security under this section.

20c3175v

(Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.722, No.113, eff. 60 days)

20c3181h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER F

PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE; REVOCATION OF

LETTERS; REMOVAL AND DISCHARGE

 

Sec.

3181.  Revocation of letters.

3182.  Grounds for removal.

3183.  Procedure for and effect of removal.

3184.  Discharge of personal representative and surety.

20c3181s

§ 3181.  Revocation of letters.

(a)  When no will.--The register may revoke letters of administration granted by him whenever it appears that the person to whom the letters were granted is not entitled thereto.

(b)  When a will.--The register may amend or revoke letters testamentary or of administration granted by him not in conformity with the provisions of a will admitted to probate.

(c)  Death charges.--Whether or not a will has been submitted or admitted, the register may revoke letters testamentary or of administration when it appears that the person to whom the letters were granted has been charged with voluntary manslaughter or homicide, except homicide by vehicle, as set forth in sections 3155 (relating to persons entitled) and 3156 (relating to persons not qualified), provided that the revocation shall not occur on these grounds if and when the charge has been dismissed, withdrawn or terminated by a verdict of not guilty.

20c3181v

(Dec. 20, 2000, P.L.838, No.118, eff. 60 days)

 

2000 Amendment.  Act 118 added subsec. (c).

20c3182s

§ 3182.  Grounds for removal.

The court shall have exclusive power to remove a personal representative when he:

(1)  is wasting or mismanaging the estate, is or is likely to become insolvent, or has failed to perform any duty imposed by law; or

(2)  (Deleted by amendment).

(3)  has become incapacitated to discharge the duties of his office because of sickness or physical or mental incapacity and his incapacity is likely to continue to the injury of the estate; or

(4)  has removed from the Commonwealth or has ceased to have a known place of residence therein, without furnishing such security or additional security as the court shall direct; or

(4.1)  has been charged with voluntary manslaughter or homicide, except homicide by vehicle, as set forth in sections 3155 (relating to persons entitled) and 3156 (relating to persons not qualified), provided that the removal shall not occur on these grounds if the charge has been dismissed, withdrawn or terminated by a verdict of not guilty; or

(5)  when, for any other reason, the interests of the estate are likely to be jeopardized by his continuance in office.

20c3182v

(Apr. 16, 1992, P.L.108, No.24, eff. 60 days; Dec. 20, 2000, P.L.838, No.118, eff. 60 days)

 

2000 Amendment.  Act 118 added par. (4.1).

1992 Amendment.  See section 21 of Act 24 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability.

Cross References.  Section 3182 is referred to in sections 5131, 5515 of this title.

20c3183s

§ 3183.  Procedure for and effect of removal.

The court on its own motion may, and on the petition of any party in interest alleging adequate grounds for removal shall, order the personal representative to appear and show cause why he should not be removed, or, when necessary to protect the rights of creditors or parties in interest, may summarily remove him. Upon removal, the court may direct the grant of new letters testamentary or of administration by the register to the person entitled and may, by summary attachment of the person or other appropriate orders, provide for the security and delivery of the assets of the estate, together with all books, accounts and papers relating thereto. Any personal representative summarily removed under the provisions of this section may apply, by petition, to have the decree of removal vacated and to be reinstated, and, if the court shall vacate the decree of removal and reinstate him, it shall thereupon make any orders which may be appropriate to accomplish the reinstatement.

20c3183v

 

Cross References.  Section 3183 is referred to in sections 5131, 5515, 7766 of this title.

20c3184s

§ 3184.  Discharge of personal representative and surety.

After confirmation of his final account and distribution to the parties entitled, a personal representative and his surety may be discharged by the court from future liability. The court may discharge only the surety from future liability, allowing the personal representative to continue without surety, upon condition that no further assets shall come into the control of the personal representative until he files another bond with sufficient surety, as required by the register.

20c3184v

 

Cross References.  Section 3184 is referred to in sections 5131, 5515, 7766, 7792 of this title.