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07/10/2020 09:27 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20190&cosponId=31644
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: April 21, 2020 05:02 PM
From: Senator Lisa Baker and Sen. Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Probating a Will in a Judicial Emergency
 
As a result of the judicial emergency declared on March 18, many functions of the Register of Wills in our various counties are extremely limited, or are impossible to perform.  As an example, under current Pennsylvania law, to probate a will an executor, as well as appropriate witnesses, may be required to appear in person before a Register of Wills or a notary.  This traditional face-to-face requirement has made probating many wills impossible.  
 
We intend to introduce legislation that addresses this problem by allowing, during a declared emergency, the initial steps of the probate process to occur by mail.  The necessary petitions, affidavits and oaths all can be submitted without the need for in-person interaction.  All other required documentation must still be submitted, all fiduciary obligations must be adhered to, and executors would remain under the jurisdiction of the courts.  Executors and witnesses would also be required to submit specified photo identification and would have to complete an affidavit that makes it clear that any false statements invoke criminal perjury penalties.  If confronted with suspicious circumstances, the Register of Wills could refuse to permit probate.  
 
This bill was drafted in consultation with, and is supported by, the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
 
Please join us in supporting this common sense legislation.