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Washington County PA Courthouse, Washington PA

Purpose, Duties, and Responsibilities of the
Orphan's Court


Purpose, Duties, and Responsibilities of the
Orphan's Court

By Leslie Nelson
Written Feb. 18, 2003
Sent to the List

The responsibilities of the Orphan's Courts in Pennsylvania differ from
county to county, and some of the functions they performed 100+ years ago in
may have since been transferred to other courts or county authorities, but
here's a general overview:

The purpose of the Orphans' Court is to protect the personal and property
rights of anyone who may not be capable of handling his or her own affairs.
This definition encompasses more than orphans - it also includes deceased
persons, along with anyone else determined to be incapacitated.

Therefore, in addition to appointing guardians for minors and incapacitated
persons, the Orphans' Court has the power to appoint executors and
administrators of estates; handle matters relating to inheritances, estates
and trusts; and render binding decisions in disputes involving matters under
its jurisdiction, including challenges to wills. The Orphans' Court must
also approve any sales of property, civil settlements, etc., involving an
estate or a minor child.

Depending on the county, the Orphans' Court might also have jurisdiction in
marriage matters, in licensing or registering the marriage or in settling
disputes involving the legality of a marriage or intended marriage.

In small counties, the Orphans' Court sometimes acted as Register of Wills
or even as Register of Deeds.




Return to Orphan's Court Index

Return to Will Index 1

Return to Will Index 2

*Spaces inserted to some Wills for readability.

This page added April 8, 2009

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This page last updated Thursday, February 04, 2016