C. General Powers

The Orphans’ Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas is a court of limited jurisdiction, exercising only those powers expressly granted to the Court by statute or by necessary implication. See Main’s Estate, 322 Pa. 243 (1936). Further, the Orphans’ Court is a court of equity with all legal and equitable powers required for, or incidental to, the exercise of its jurisdiction, including the power to grant relief and enforce its decrees. See PEF Code §701, McDavitt Estate, 379 Pa. Super. 610, 550 A.2d 1015 (1988).

A party in interest is entitled to a jury trial in the Orphans’ Court when a substantial factual dispute arises concerning a decedent’s title to property. Further, any person against whom guardianship proceedings have been instituted is entitled to a jury trial on the issue of capacity. A jury verdict in such cases has the same effect as a jury verdict in an action at law. In all other matters, including will contests, the Orphans’ Court may grant a jury trial demand in its discretion. A jury verdict in such cases is advisory only. The right to a jury trial is waived if not timely filed. See PEF Code §777.

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