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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 23-1586


Title 231—RULES OF



Proposed Rescission and Replacement of Register of Wills Forms RW-02 and RW-07

[53 Pa.B. 7156]
[Saturday, November 18, 2023]

 The Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee is considering proposing to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania the rescission and replacement of Register of Wills Forms RW-02 (Petition for Grant of Letters) and RW-07 (Notice of Estate Administration). Pursuant to Pa.R.J.A. 103(a)(1), the proposal is being published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin for comments, suggestions, or objections prior to submission to the Supreme Court.

 Any report accompanying this proposal was prepared by the Committee to indicate the rationale for the proposed rulemaking. It will neither constitute a part of the rules nor be officially adopted by the Supreme Court.

 The Committee invites all interested persons to submit comments, suggestions, or objections in writing to:

Pamela S. Walker, Counsel
Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Judicial Center
PO Box 62635
Harrisburg, PA 17106-2635
FAX: 717-231-9546

 All communications in reference to the proposal should be received by January 18, 2024. E-mail is the preferred method for submitting comments, suggestions, or objections; any e-mailed submission need not be reproduced and resubmitted via mail. The Committee will acknowledge receipt of all submissions.

By the Orphans' Court
Procedural Rules Committee


Annex A





Available as Fill-in Forms on Website of Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts
Orphans' Court and Administration Forms

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 D. Register of Wills Forms

*  *  *  *  *

 7. Notice of Estate Administration Pursuant to
[Pa. O.C. Rule] Pa.R.O.C.P. 10.5RW-07

*  *  *  *  *





Proposed Rescission and Replacement of Register of Wills Forms RW-02 and RW-07

 The Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee is considering proposing to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania the rescission and replacement of Register of Wills Forms RW-02 (Petition for Grant of Letters) and RW-07 (Notice of Estate Administration). This proposal would update the two forms to better reflect underlying statutory requirements, enhance clarity, and achieve consistent formatting.

Form RW-02 (Petition for Grant of Letters)

 The Committee received correspondence suggesting the revision of form RW-02. The correspondent perceived that paragraph A of the form pertaining to exceptions reflected an inaccurate interpretation of the law. Paragraph A currently provides:

Except as follows: after the execution of the instrument(s) offered for probate Decedent did not marry, was not divorced, was not a party to a pending divorce proceeding wherein the grounds for divorce had been established as defined in 23 Pa.C.S. § 3323(g), and did not have a child born or adopted; and Decedent was neither the victim of a killing nor ever adjudicated an incapacitated person.

This language was added to the form in 2011 in response to Act 85 of 2010, which, among other things, amended 20 Pa.C.S. §§ 2106 and 2507 to add pending divorce actions as exclusionary circumstances from taking the spousal share or inheriting under a will absent clear language in the will that the decedent intended the bequest to survive the divorce. The Committee found that, as drafted, current paragraph A suggests that incapacity of the decedent need only be reported if it was adjudicated after the execution of the will. Therefore, the Committee drafted revisions to paragraph A intended to clarify the need to report incapacity or murder of the decedent regardless of temporal relation to execution of the will.

 During its discussions, the Committee also discussed whether it would be helpful to include a checkbox on the Petition for Grant of Letters to indicate that the estate is being opened for litigation purposes only, particularly when the estate has no assets or the assets are unknown. A similar checkbox currently appears on the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Estate Information Sheet, Form REV-346. The Committee believed adding the checkbox would have the benefit of making the Register of Wills aware that an inventory is not likely to be filed in the case of an estate without assets.

Form RW-07 (Notice of Estate Administration)

 The Committee also received a request to examine Form RW-07, specifically the requirement for the person completing the form to identify the recipient's potential beneficial interest in the estate. Currently, the form provides ''You [i.e., the recipient] may have a beneficial interest in the estate as follows: ______ .'' The correspondent found the language potentially confusing to recipients of the form in light of the disclaimer that ''This Notice does not mean that you will receive money or property from the estate or otherwise''. Further, while the writer did not find completing the form problematic when the relationship between the decedent and the beneficiary is readily apparent, there are occasional circumstances when relationships and, thus, the beneficial interests, are more difficult to discern. There is also a concern that beneficial interests could change during the period of estate administration, e.g., when a beneficiary disclaims. Finally, the correspondent queried whether identifying a potential beneficial interest could be considered legal advice to a non-client or invite a conflict with a client's interests.

 The Committee believes the intent of Form RW-07 is to advise every person who could have an interest in the estate that one has been opened, who is the personal representative, and how to obtain a copy of the will or petition for grant of letters. This information enables the notice recipient to take steps to identify and secure his or her potential beneficial interest. The Committee agreed that the recipient of the notice should decide if he or she wants to investigate the potential beneficial interest, rather than being informed what the sender thinks the interest is. The Committee agreed it would be helpful to change the wording on the Notice to: ''You are receiving this notice because you may have a beneficial interest in the estate.'' This change means that the recipient will learn an estate has been opened and not the exact nature of the potential interest.

 The Committee proposes other stylistic changes to the notice, such as updating a citation, adding blank lines so the form has a consistent appearance, and changing a reference from ''beneficiary'' to ''addressee.''

*  *  *  *  *

 The Committee invites all comments, concerns, and suggestions regarding this proposal.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 23-1586. Filed for public inspection November 17, 2023, 9:00 a.m.]

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