What is the Register of Wills Office or Department?

Why Wills Can't Wait

Register of Wills

The primary function of the Register of Wills Office is to determine whether a document offered for probate should be received as the last will and testament of the decedent.

The office also is charged with determining who should be authorized to administer the estate of decedents where personal representative has not qualified of where the decedent died without a valid will.

Wills are frequently challenged on various grounds including forgery, lack of capacity or undue influence. The Register of Wills is an elected official, hears testimony on these challenges, and makes a decision accepting or rejecting the document offer to probate.

When there is no will, the Register grants Letters of Administration, usually to the next of kin, to administer the estate. If there is a dispute as to whom should serve as administer, the Register decides who should be appointed. Approximately 3,000 estate matters are handled each year.

As Clerk of Orphans' Court Division, the primary function of the office is to act as custodian of all papers filed in Orphans' Court, including all orders signed by President Judge relating to the administration of estates of decedents, minors and incapacitated persons and with adoptions as well.

It is also the responsibility of the Clerk of Orphans' Court Division to take applications for the issuance of marriage licenses in accordance with the Marriage Act of the Commonwealth. Approximately 2,500 marriage licenses are issued each year.

The office has Birth and Death records for the years 1893-1906.

The Register of Wills and the Clerk of Orphans' Court Division is located on the First Floor of the Government Center Building and may be reached at 891-4400.