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The Rules and Practice Committee of the Probate and Trust Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association offers this revised and expanded edition of “Practice and Procedure in the Orphans’ Court Division in Philadelphia County,” first prepared as a pamphlet in 1950 by John Blessing who had served for 23 years as a law clerk to Judges of the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court. Mr. Blessing later worked as a Trust Officer for First Pennsylvania Bank, one of the predecessors to Wachovia Wealth Management which has acted as the sponsor of the Philadelphia Estate Practitioner Handbook in both its print edition and on the internet at While in short supply, having last been published in 1981, this volume is affectionately known by probate lawyers as “The Red Book,” the last component of the trilogy which comprises the Philadelphia Estate Practitioner Handbook.

As was the intent of the original publication, the goal of this volume is to acquaint the newly admitted lawyer or a seasoned practitioner with limited Orphans’ Court experience to the unique procedures followed in the handling of estate, trust and guardianship matters. Material involving practice in the Office of the Register of Wills was earlier published as the Register of Wills Manual or “The Blue Book” and therefore no longer appears as part of this treatise. The role of the Orphans’ Court has broadened to include a more direct role in charitable and non-profit corporation matters so the volume has been expanded to cover these topics.

The Red Book was revised and expanded by the following members of the Section to whom great appreciation is owed: Joan Agran, Gregory G. Alexander, Lawrence Barth, Thomas A. Bell, Wendy Fein Cooper, Kim D. Fetrow, George S. Forde, Jr., Daniel L. Glennon, Daphne Goldman, Adam T. Gusdorff, Leanna Johannes, Steven R. Klammer, Bernice J. Koplin, Sue D. Lomas, Marie K. Parrott, Sanford L. Pfeffer, Arthur R. G. Solmssen, Jr., Nina Booz Stryker and Gordon M. Wase.

We are deeply grateful to Eugene H. Gillin, who has acted as Editor-in-Chief of the entire Philadelphia Estate Practitioner Handbook and edited this volume along with the undersigned. Gene also spearheaded the effort to introduce PEPH to distribution via the internet where it has enjoyed overwhelming success.

We again acknowledge with sincere thanks our sponsor, Wachovia Wealth Management, without whose support this project would not have been possible.

  Margaret Gallagher Thompson, Chair
Rules and Practice Committee
Probate and Trust Law Section
Philadelphia Bar Association