When a document is submitted for probate, we determine whether a document offered for probate should be received as the last Will of the decedent.
No Executor Named
Where a Will does not name an executor, the Director determines who shall administer the Estate of the deceased.
Challenges to Wills
Wills are frequently challenged on the grounds of:
- Lack of mental capacity of the testator
- Undue influence
The Director of the Wills/Orphans’ Court Division hears testimony with regard to any challenge and makes a decision accepting or rejecting the document offered.
Letters of Administration
Where there is no Will, the Director grants Letters of Administration, usually to the next of kin.
Where there is a dispute among the heirs as to who will serve as Administrator, the Director will conduct a hearing and resolve the dispute.
Minors of the Deceased
Guardians of the person and the property of minors are appointed by the Orphans' Court.
The law does not require eyewitnesses (subscribing witnesses) to the signature of the testator in order for the Will to be valid.
However, if the Will does not have 2 subscribing witnesses, at the time of probate, 2 witnesses, subscribing or non-subscribing, must appear and identify under oath the signature of the decedent on the Will.
Wills can be made self-proven if proper acknowledgements and affidavits are signed by the testator and witnesses at the time of execution. Self-proving Wills eliminate the need for witnesses.
Disposition of Property
Property owned solely in the name of the decedent passes by Will.
Property owned by the entireties (husband and wife), jointly or in a trust does not pass by Will.
Advice as to what specific property does or does not pass by Will and what property is or is not subject to Pennsylvania Inheritance Taxes should be obtained from your attorney.