Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Uniform Orphans' Court Forms in PA

On October 16, 2006, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, through its Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, issued new uniform Orphans' Court Forms for practice before the Registers of Wills and the Clerks of the Orphans' Court Divisions in the Commonwealth. 

The Orphans' Court adjudicates matters involving agency (under power of attorney), guardianship, estate, and trust relationships. The proposed forms were published previously in the Pennsylvania Bulletin for comment on June 18, 2005, and November 5, 2005.

The Press Release, found online here, announces a single set of uniform forms for use thirty days after publication of the notice of proposed Supreme Court rulemaking. The new forms will be mandated for use in all counties of the Commonwealth for certain types of Orphans' Court filings.

It is appears that the forms will be of the PDF "fill-in" type, which can be printed by users after completion.

Following are some of the contents of the Press Statement:

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania today adopted new rules for standardized forms for use in estate, trust and guardianship matters to make them easier to use and more accessible to lawyers and citizens across the Commonwealth.
The action creates - for the first time - a uniform set of filing forms for use statewide in Pennsylvania's Orphans' Courts and the Offices of the Register of Wills. The new forms will be available on the Internet through a section of the Pennsylvania Judiciary Web site ( by the time the new rules take effect within 30 days. The Supreme Court directive promotes uniformity in the state's 67 counties and standardizes Orphans' Court matters in counties where no judge is assigned exclusively to such cases.
Because the forms will be available online, users will no longer be limited to completing only preprinted forms supplied by a Register of Wills or Clerk of Orphans' Court that required information to be typed or written onto the documents. Attorneys and citizens filing such forms may fill them out directly on a computer, and print them for submission at a county courthouse or file them electronically in counties with that capability. Electronic filing of Orphans' Court matters is now available only in Philadelphia County, but is expected to expand throughout the Commonwealth.

The online forms are grouped in an appendix which includes forms for use in both the Orphans' Court Division and the Office of the Register of Wills. As an added convenience provided by the court Web site, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue's Estate Information Sheet is included in the listings. This sheet is used by the Department of Revenue to track the filing of Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Returns and is submitted to the Register of Wills at the commencement of the estate administration process.

"These new forms further underscore the Supreme Court's commitment to consolidate Orphans' Court procedures to make sure they are more easily understood and uniformly applied," Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ralph J. Cappy said. "Ending this lack of uniformity will certainly make the forms less confusing and streamline their use by citizens and our courts."

Chief Justice Cappy said the changes were adopted after careful study by the Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee over several years with input from judges and lawyers from various parts of the state.
Technically, the Supreme Court's Order takes five actions:
  • Adopts Supreme Court Orphans’ Court Rule 1.3;
  • Amends existing Supreme Court Orphans’ Court Rules 5.6, 6.9, 6.12, 10.1, 14.2, 14.5, 16.5 & 16.10;
  • Repeals Supreme Court Orphans’ Court Rules 5.7, 16.11, & 16.12;
  • Approves the explanatory "Committee Comments—2006" to Supreme Court Orphans’ Court Rules 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 6.9, 6.12, 10.1, 14.2, 14.5, 16.5, 16.10, 16.11, & 16.12; and
  • Adopts new uniform forms, including their index, as an Appendix to the Supreme Court Rules.
The Supreme Court's Order can be found here; and the Uniform Orphans' Court Forms can be found here. Both are in PDF format.

The Index of forms is as follows, with my addition of individual reference links:
Orphans’ Court and Administration Forms:
A. Audit and Administration Forms
  1. Petition for Adjudication - Decedent’s Estate (Pa. O.C. Rule 6.9) - OC-01
  2. Petition for Adjudication - Trust Estate (Pa. O.C. Rule 6.9) - OC-02 
  3. Petition for Adjudication - Guardian of Estate of Incapacitated Person (Pa. O.C. Rule 6.9) - OC-03 
  4. Petition for Adjudication - Guardian of Estate of Minor (Pa. O.C. Rule 6.9) - OC-04 
  5. Petition for Adjudication – Principal’s Estate under POA (Pa. O.C. Rule 6.9) - OC-05 
  6. Notice of Charitable Gift (Pa. O.C. Rule 5.5) - OC-06 
  7. Notice of Claim - OC-07
B. Guardianship Forms
  1. Important Notice - Citation with Notice (Pa. O.C. Rule 14.5) G-01 
  2. Annual Report - Guardian of Estate - G-02 
  3. Annual Report - Guardian of Person - G-03 
  4. Guardian’s Inventory - G-04 
  5. Petition for Adjudication - Guardian of Estate of Incapacitated Person - OC-03∗
  6. Petition for Adjudication - Guardian of Estate of Minor - OC-04∗∗
∗ "Form OC-3 is not reprinted here and is located under Audit and Administration Forms at No. 3."
∗∗ "Form OC-4 is not reprinted here and is located under Audit and Administration Forms at No. 4."
C. Abortion Control Act Forms
  1. Minor’s Application for Judicial Authorization of an Abortion (Pa. O.C. Rule16.10) - ACA-01 
  2. Confidential Unsworn Verification by a Minor (Pa. O.C. Rule16.10) - ACA-02
D. Register of Wills Forms
  1. Estate Information Sheet - RW-01 (Not adopted by Supreme Court; form promulgated by Department of Revenue and maintained with Register of Wills forms for convenience)
  2. Petition for Probate and Grant of Letters - RW-02 
  3. Oath of Subscribing Witness(es) - RW-03 
  4. Oath of Non-subscribing Witness(es) - RW-04 
  5. Oath of Witness(es) to Will Executed by Mark - RW-05 
  6. Renunciation - RW-06 
  7. Pa. O.C. Rule 5.6 Notice - RW-07 
  8. Certification of Notice under Pa. O.C. Rule 5.6(a) - RW-08 
  9. Estate Inventory - RW-09 
  10. Pa. O.C. Rule 6.12 Status Report - RW-10
Update: 01/18/11:

The RW-02 form, "Petition for Probate and Grant of Letters", must be updated. See: PA EE&F Law Blog posting Update to Probate Petition in PA (01/18/11).