New PA Orphans' Court Rules

The Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules Committee published a proposal for new Orphans’ Court Rules in April 2013 with a comment period was open until June 13, 2013. After comments, some revisions were made. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted these proposed new rules by Order dated December 1, 2015 with an effective date of September 1, 2016.

At the same time all local rules will be automatically repealed, except for local rules regarding adoption, guardianship and abortion control ACT proceedings. Any local rules that are desired by local courts or bar associations must be submitted to the Orphans Court Procedural Rules Committee no later than June 1, 2016 to determine that they are not inconsistent with these new proposed rules.

The Rules are intended to standardize procedures throughout the Commonwealth, as the Committee’s Report states:

"These new statewide O.C. Rules are intended to acoojmplish the following three objections:

(1) promote a standard statewide practice and reduce variations caused by reliance on local practice;

(2) provide clear procedures to practitioners and judges throughout the state, espeically those in counties without dedicated orphans’ court divisions; and

(3) harmonize orphans’ court proceedings with general civil practice to the extent possible."

The text of the new rules can be found here.

The Rules Committee is also working on revising the various orphans court forms such as petitions for adjudication to bring them up to date in light of these new rules, with the goal of having them being approved by the Supreme Court by the September 1, 2016 effective date.

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