How to Contest a Will in Pennsylvania

By Beverly Bird

There are several ways to contest a will in Pennsylvania. When a Pennsylvania will is first submitted for probate, it goes to the Register of Wills in the county where the testator, or the person who made the will, resided at the time of his death. If the will is valid, the Register accepts it and the probate process moves to Pennsylvania’s Orphan’s Court. When you object to a will determines how complicated the process will be.

Step 1

File a caveat, or a written objection to the will, with the Register of Wills while it is still in that office’s possession. The caveat must include your legal reasons for contesting the will, or grounds. Acceptable grounds in Pennsylvania include procedural mistakes in the making of the will, a fraudulent will or one that is a forgery, or the testator making the will the way he did because he was under duress from another beneficiary. When a caveat is filed, the Register cannot transfer the will to Orphan’s Court until it has heard your challenge.

Step 2

Appear before the Register of Wills to argue your position that the will is not valid. When the Register receives your objection, a date for the hearing will be set. The Register has full authority to decide the matter at this time. If you win, the will is denied probate and the estate is treated as though the testator died without a will. If you lose, the Register issues a decree for probate and transfers the will to Orphan’s Court.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Appeal the Register’s decision in Orphan’s Court if you fail to block the will before a decree for probate is issued. You have one year to do this unless the executor and the beneficiaries object to giving you this much time. Pennsylvania’s laws favor the will at this time. Orphan’s Court assumes that it is valid because the Register of Wills has cleared it, allowing the executor or any other interested party to file an Order to Show Cause asking that your time be limited to three months. The executor will usually object on the grounds that a year would endanger the value of the estate’s assets.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Wisconsin Probate Procedures to Challenge a Will
 

References

Related articles

When Does Last Will & Testament Have to Be Filed in Probate?

When someone dies, leaving a will, it must be filed in the appropriate probate court to be legally effective. The court must verify that it is, indeed, the decedent's will and that it has been property executed under state law. The personal representative, or executor, named in the will cannot begin estate administration until probate has been opened.

North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Filing a Will

A will contains the final wishes and instructions for distribution of property to heirs of the will's author, also referred to as the testator. In North Carolina, a will must be filed with the probate court within the time frame stipulated in state laws to be eligible for probate, the proceeding used to give authority to the executor.

How to Probate a Will in Pennsylvania

The probate process in Pennsylvania is relatively simple, and some of its steps can be avoided by consent of the beneficiaries and the executor, the person responsible for settling the deceased’s estate and making sure the terms of her will are carried out. The Register of Wills in each Pennsylvania county determines if a will is valid and hears any disputes from persons who might want to contest it. Probate is then handed over to the Orphan’s Court that will eventually close the estate when probate is completed.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Pennsylvania Laws on the Responsibilities for an Executor of an Estate

Executors are fiduciaries, meaning they have a responsibility to take care of assets and distribute property according ...

How Do I See a Will in Probate in Pennsylvania?

A will is a legal document that sets forth a person’s wishes for the disposition of his property after his death. For a ...

The Amount of Time Allowed to Probate a Will in Pennsylvania

State laws vary with regard to probate. Probate is a judicial process where a special court oversees the administration ...

How to File a Last Will & Testament

Probate is the court-supervised administration of a will. When someone dies, his will serves as a map to steer his ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED