||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
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
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.