Research guides

Pennsylvania Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Introduction

Introduction

End-of-life planning can be complicated. What is a will versus a trust? Who can contest a will? How does this process work? What taxes need to be paid after someone's death or in conjunction with the bequest of a gift via a will?

This guide highlights the major secondary tools available to Jenkins' members to research these questions. Specifically, this guide focuses on Pennsylvania estate planning, including wills and trusts, as well as estate practice, like Orphans' Court practice. For resources on power of attorney or guardianship, see the Pennsylvania Power of Attorney and Guardianship in Pennsylvania guides.

Please keep in mind that primary sources (statutes, administrative regulations, case law, etc.) should always be consulted. For where to locate primary source materials, see the PA Law guides.

Research Tip

Additional forms and self-help materials related to elder law and other topics may be found in the Self-Help Research Guide.

Online

The following bar associations, courts, and legal aid organizations have information on estate planning and Orphans' Court on their websites.

Allegheny County Bar Association
Includes Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney forms endorsed by doctors and lawyers in Pennsylvania, along with a step-by-step video guide.

PALawHelp.org
Includes legal information, referrals to legal service providers, and other information organized by sub-topics. Select topics include Advance Directives, Guardianships, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills and Wills and Estates.

Pennsylvania Bar Association
Includes pamphlets on a variety of topics, including Estate Planning, and Living Wills/Health Care Powers of Attorney. Also see the Guide to Legal Issues for PA Senior Citizens.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division
Includes select forms, manuals, and practice outlines.

The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania
Includes select Orphans' Court forms.

PBI Publications

In conjunction with its continuing legal education courses, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) produces many books each year covering various legal topics. Some of these concentrate on more specific or unusual areas of the law. PBI publications can be helpful additional sources to look at when conducting research.

The PBI publications listed in this resource guide are a sampling of the PBI wills, trusts, and estate practice publications available to Jenkins' members. New PBI publications are being added to our collection continuously. We also have older years in our Closed Stacks area for archival purposes. Please check the Jenkins' catalog for a more up-to-date listing. To limit your search results to only PBI materials, select Modify Search and enter Pennsylvania Bar Institute in the Publisher field.

Please note that not all PBI titles are published each year. Please remember to update with primary sources.