Research guides

Pennsylvania Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Probate, Administration, and Orphans' Court Practice

Probate is "[t]he judicial procedure by which a testamentary document is established to be a valid will; the proving of a will to the satisfaction of the court. Unless set aside, the probate of a will is conclusive on the parties to the proceedings (and others who had notice of them) on all questions of testamentary capacity, the absence of fraud or undue influence, and due execution of the will. But probate does not preclude inquiry into the validity of the will's provisions or on their proper construction or legal effect." Probate, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014).

In Pennsylvania, administration is "a term applied to denote the management of an estate by a person appointed by the authority of the law to take charge thereof in place of the legal owner." 25 P.L.E.2d Executors and Administrators § 1 (2014).

Generally, Pennsylvania statutes on probate and administration are found in Title 20 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Pennsylvania statutes on Orphans' Court Divisions are generally found at 20 Pa.C.S. §§ 701-794. Additional probate and administration-related laws, as well as Orphans' Court-related laws, may be included in other areas of the Pennsylvania Statutes. Use the index volumes or conduct a search to find relevant statutes. For where to find Pennsylvania statutes, see the Pennsylvania Statutes guide.

The resources listed below are a selection of the secondary materials related to probate, administration, and Orphans' Court practice in Pennsylvania. It may be beneficial to also look at the resources listed in the Estate Practice & Planning page of this guide. Additional material may be available at Jenkins. Search the Jenkins' catalog for probate* or orphan* court and limit the location to Pennsylvania for a more detailed list. Visitors to Jenkins may also want to browse the shelves around call numbers KFP142 through KFP147.

Forms

Orphans' Court Forms Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania
Includes forms for audit and administration, guardianship, abortion control act, register of wills, forms of account, foreign adoption forms, and more.

Court of Common Pleas - Orphans' Court Division Philadelphia Courts
Includes forms for audit and administration, guardianship, forms of account, decedent's estate proceeding, incapacitated person's proceeding, minor's proceeding, trust proceeding, wrongful death and survival proceeding, register of wills forms, and more.

Dunlap-Hanna Pennsylvania Forms LexisNexis
Also on the library's Lexis computers.
See Chapter 74: Actions Before the Register of Wills and Applicable Appeal to the Orphans' Court Division, Chapter 75: Administration of Estates, Chapter 82: Pleadings, and Chapter 83: Depositions, Discovery and Production of Documents.

Pennsylvania Transaction Guide: Legal Forms LexisNexis
Also on the library's Lexis computers. Also referred to as Bongiovanni.
See Chapter 75: Powers of Appointment and Chapter 76: Executors.

Orphans' Court Rules

Orphans' Court Rules, as found in the Pennsylvania Code.

Pennsylvania Orphan's Court Rules ALM Media
Includes the Orphans' Court Rules of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as well as various counties' Orphans' Court Rules.

Research Tip

For additional ways to access the Orphans' Court Rules, see the Pennsylvania Court Rules - State and Pennsylvania Court Rules - County guides.

Orphans' Court Manuals

Orphans' Court Manual: Practice and Procedure Before the Register of Wills of Bucks County and in the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, PA Bucks County Bar Association
Library also has previous editions: see all.

Philadelphia Estate Practitioner Handbook Philadelphia Bar Association Probate and Trust Law Section
Also available online from the Philadelphia Bar Association Probate and Trust Law Section. Includes forms. Please be advised that the PEPH was last revised in 2002, and there have been significant changes to the law and procedural rules since that time. Use this resource at your own risk.

Online Forms & Manuals

Orphans' Court Forms Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania
Includes forms for audit and administration, guardianship, abortion control act, register of wills, forms of account, foreign adoption forms, and more.

Court of Common Pleas - Orphans' Court Division Philadelphia Courts
Includes forms for audit and administration, guardianship, forms of account, decedent's estate proceeding, incapacitated person's proceeding, minor's proceeding, trust proceeding, wrongful death and survival proceeding, register of wills forms, and more.

Philadelphia Estate Practitioner Handbook Philadelphia Bar Association Probate and Trust Law Section
Includes forms. Also available in print. Please be advised that the PEPH was last revised in 2002, and there have been significant changes to the law and procedural rules since that time. Use this resource at your own risk.

Member Databases

Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia
Available on the LexisNexis Digital Library. See "Executors and Administrators" (vol. 25).
Also on the library's Lexis computers and in print.

Onsite Print & Electronic

Dunlap-Hanna Pennsylvania Forms LexisNexis
Also available on the library's Lexis computers.
See Chapter 74: Actions Before the Register of Wills and Applicable Appeal to the Orphans' Court Division, Chapter 75: Administration of Estates, Chapter 82: Pleadings, and Chapter 83: Depositions, Discovery and Production of Documents.

Partridge-Remick Practice and Procedure in the Orphan's Court Division, Court of Common Pleas of Pennsylvania LexisNexis
Also available on the library's Lexis computers.
See Volume 6: The Orphans' Court Division. Additional information may be included in other areas. Use the index to find additional sections.

Pennsylvania Estates Practice Thomson Reuters
Includes forms.

Pennsylvania Fiduciary Guide: A Handbook for Executors and Administrators Bisel
Includes forms. Library also has previous editions: see all.

Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia LexisNexis
Also available on the library's Lexis computers and the LexisNexis Digital Library.
See "Executors and Administrators" (vol. 25). Library also has previous edition: see all.

Pennsylvania Orphans' Court Commonplace Book Bisel
Also referred to as Hunter's. See "Orphans' Court". Use the index to find relevant sections. Select article topics include "Execution of Wills", "Executors and Administrators", "Fiduciaries", "Probate of Wills", and "Register of Wills".
Library also has previous edition: see all.

Pennsylvania Probate and Estate Administration West
Also available on the library's Westlaw computers. Library also has previous editions: see all.

Pennsylvania Transaction Guide: Legal Forms LexisNexis
Also on the library's Lexis computers. Also referred to as Bongiovanni.
See Chapter 75: Powers of Appointment and Chapter 76: Executors.

Standard Pennsylvania Practice West
Also available on the library's Westlaw computers.
See Chapter 141: Orphans' Court Division, Generally and Chapter 142: Orphans' Court Rules and Procedure, Generally. Additional information may be found in chapters 148-159. Library also has previous edition: see all.

Summary of Pennsylvania Jurisprudence 2d West
Also available on the library's Westlaw computers.
See Probate, Estates, and Trusts, volumes 9-11A. Use the table of contents and the index to find relevant chapters. Library also has previous edition.