Where a person dies without a Will, the personal representative is known as an "Administrator." Where there is a Will which does not name an executor, or where the named executor for some reason (e.g., death, resignation, or renunciation) is unwilling or unable to serve, the Register will grant Letters of Administration to a qualified individual or corporation, who is known as an "Administrator c.t.a." The Register may also grant temporary Letters of Administration where required, e.g., durante minoritate, durante absentia, and pendente lite. These special types of letters are discussed in more detail below
A. Regular
Letters of

Where there is no Will, Letters of Administration will be granted to the following persons or their nominees in the following order of priority:

the surviving spouse;
the intestate heirs (or such of them as the Register determines will best administer the estate);
the principal creditors of the decedent at the time of death;
other fit persons; or
a guardianship support agency which served as guardian of an incapacitated person who died during the guardianship.

The intestate heirs are persons related to the decedent and entitled to inherit the estate, as set forth in the statute, Section 2101 of the PEF Code. Intestate heirs have priority to administer the estate according to the size of the heir's interest in the estate and not according to the closeness of the relationship to the decedent. For example, if a person dies leaving as next-of-kin a sister and a son of a deceased sister, the law provides that both share equally in the estate and have an equal right to administer the estate. Although the sister is in closer relationship to the decedent, she does not have a greater right to administer the estate.

If a person entitled to administer the estate of an intestate renounces that right, a Renunciation and Nomination (Appendix A, Form No. 4) or similar writing must be executed and filed with the Register. The Register will generally accept that person's nominee as administrator in preference to those in the next class of priority. Nominations will be accepted from minor heirs who are at least 14 years of age. If a Renunciation is not executed in the presence of a probate clerk, it must be verified or notarized.

To obtain regular Letters of Administration, the person or persons entitled must generally follow the procedure set forth under Chapter 2. A Petition for the Grant of Letters (Appendix A, Form No. 1) is required, as well as a death certificate, an Estate Information Sheet (Appendix A, Form No. 2) and a check for the probate fee. Other documents, such as Renunciations, may be required as well.

The Register will not appoint co-administrators unless all interested parties agree. It is advisable to produce written consents to demonstrate such an agreement. If the parties cannot agree, the Register will generally grant Letters of Administration to the nominee of the heirs whose interests, under the Intestate Act, form a majority interest in the estate.
If heirs under the age of 14 constitute a majority interest, the Register will require that a guardian be appointed to renounce on their behalf and nominate a qualified personal representative, unless the estate is under $25,000.00 or Letters are being granted for litigation ("for suit") purposes only. (See paragraphs C. and E. below). The guardian is appointed by the Orphans' Court following the filing of a Petition for Appointment of a Guardian for the Minor's Estate.

When a majority of intestate heirs cannot agree on an administrator, any heir may file a petition for citation directed to the other heirs to show cause why the petitioner (or his nominee) should not be appointed administrator (Appendix B, Form No. 2). If the other heirs do not appear, the Register may appoint the petitioner, or his nominee, as administrator. If the other heirs do appear to oppose the petition, the Register will hold a hearing on the petition (see the section entitled "Hearings Before the Register," below) and appoint a "fit person" as administrator. The Register has discretionary authority to appoint a disinterested third party.

In the event a decedent dies without a Will and without heirs (other than the Commonwealth, as statutory heir), the Register has authority to appoint an administrator.


A | B | C | D | E | F