New Pennsylvania Orphans' Court Rules

The new Pennsylvania Orphans' Court Rules go into effect on Thursday, September 1. The new rules, as well as the Order and the Committee Report, are available online from the Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee.

The new rules were proposed by the committee on April 13, 2013 (43 Pa.B. 2010) and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the adoption of the rules on December 1, 2015 (45 Pa.B. 7098). The rules will go into effect on September 1, 2016. As reported in Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Max Mitchell, Dec. 8, 2015), these rules rescind local orphans' court rules and replace them with one set of statewide rules. Local rules regarding guardianship of incapacitated persons, adoptions, and proceedings pursuant to section 3206 of the Abortion Control Act are still being worked on and those local rules currently remain in effect (see new Rule 1.5(a) for more information).

The rules also make the use of standardized Supreme Court forms a requirement. According to new Rule 1.8, these approved forms are available in the Appendix to the rules and are maintained online through the official website of the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts.

Because of these new rules, counties have been rescinding their local Orphans' Court Rules. Counties may adopt additional local Orphans' Rules, and new Rule 1.5 outlines the process counties must take before adopting new local Orphans' Court rules. Updates to all local court rules are published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

This is the first time the Pennsylvania Orphans' Court Rules have had a substantial revision since 1975. For more information on the new rules, including a list of the top ten changes, see PBI's New Pennsylvania Orphans' Court Rules.

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