When an executor or administrator is ready to open a decedent’s estate at the Register of Wills, whether the estate is located in Bucks County, Philadelphia County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Lehigh County or Wayne County, etc., a probate clerk will review the documents provided by the Executor or Administrator, and decide whether a decedent was properly domiciled in the county where the personal representative proposes to open the estate. Typically, the probate clerk will look at a decedent’s death certificate to determine a decedent’s domicile. There are times where a deceased individual may not be domiciled in Pennsylvania but may need to open the estate in PA in order to administer a piece of real or tangible personal property located within the state.
The PA probate attorneys at Maloles Law once had a case where a deceased person died testate (with a will) a resident of New York but owned a vacation home in the Poconos (in Wayne County, PA) titled in his name alone. The decedent owned all of his property in New York, jointly with his wife so his will did not need to be offered for probate in New York. However, because the Poconos property was titled in the deceased husband’s name alone, probate in PA had to occur to properly administer the property and pass title according to the terms of the will.
In PA, 20 Pa.C.S. § 3131 addresses the issue we faced as PA probate attorneys for this particular estate which states that if a decedent had no domicile in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, his or her will may be probated before the register of any county where any of his property is located. Thus, we successfully probated the decedent’s will with the Register of Wills in Wayne County although the decedent had a New York death certificate stating his domicile was New York.
If you have any questions about domicile in relation to probate in PA, please contact our experienced estate administration attorneys.