Must an Estate Representative Appear in Court?

A very common question which our office receives is whether the executor or administrator of a loved one’s estate must appear in court. This can be a very important consideration when selecting an estate representative. In many cases, the person nominated in the Will to serve as representative may face health issues that make it difficult to go to court. In other cases, the proposed representative may live out of state or have career demands which are impacted by court dates.


What is the Register of Wills?


In Pennsylvania, the process of estate administration (also called probate) operates through the Register of Wills. The Register of Wills is an administrative office assigned to handle decedent’s estates and operates under the supervision of the court of common pleas. Estate administration begins by initiating a petition in the Register of Wills and seeking appointment of a representative.


Is a court appearance required?


In order to obtain appointment as representative, a petition must be filed, and an appearance made before the Register of Wills. One purpose of the appearance is for the representative to take the oath of office. However, this appearance is less formal than a legal case before a judge. In addition, new procedures have been implemented in many Pennsylvania counties which permit virtual appearances, making the process a little easier.


However, any disputes between heirs over estate property or the Will often become a legal case within the court of common pleas. If the heirs cannot agree on what should happen with the decedent’s property, lengthy litigation and many court appearances can ensue.


As a probate law firm for estate executors, we help settle estates efficiently and reduce stress. If you know someone faced with a probate process or roadblocks to an estate property sale, please have them contact us for a free evaluation at:


Phone: (215) 918-4242 

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If you are not quite ready for a consultation, download our probate handbook HERE. We’ll send you helpful probate guides and resources so you know how to handle the estate.