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Letters Testamentary / Letters of Administration are documents issued by the Register of Wills authorizing a person(s) to act as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. It is the authority required to marshal assets, access records, or make distribution.
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Probate is the procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Yes, all probate records are available to be viewed by the public, unless impounded by court order.
A will is registered or probated too authorize a representative to administer estate assets.
"Intestate" means someone dies without a will.
A short certificate is a certification that a probate/administration proceeding is on file in our office and that the personal representative's appointment has not been revoked.
A will is probated only after the testator dies. It is important to keep the will in a safe place before this time. You should also tell your family, heirs, and/or personal representative(s) the location of your will.
We are required by law to keep the original will as a part of the permanent record.
We suggest you contact an attorney to prepare a petition for a register's hearing.
We cannot mandate that you use an attorney. However, unless you know what, how, and when to do each step of the estate process, we urge you to at least speak to an attorney regarding the estate. Due to litigation liability, employees in this office cannot make any determinations or instruct you in any manner as to what is required to administer an estate. Also, we are not permitted aid in the preparation of any forms.
Moreover, if you raise an estate and later discover it was not necessary to do so, we cannot refund any of the filing fees.
The order of appointment is established by law.
To open an estate you will need:
No. This office functions only as an agent for the Department of Revenue in the filing and processing of Inheritance Tax Returns/payments. The staff is not trained to give advice concerning the correct completion of the return or calculation of the tax.
The Inheritance Tax Booklet with instructions is available in our office or you may download forms/instructions from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue's website Inheritance Tax Department. For other frequently asked questions regarding Inheritance Tax, see our Inheritance Tax page.
If you have questions that are not answered in the instruction booklet, you should contact an attorney or an accountant for assistance. You may also phone the Department of Revenue's Information Line at 717-787-8327.